Liam Withnail: “Chronic Boom” at Edinburgh Fringe 2023

**** (out of 5)

Liam Withnail’s Fringe show last year revolved around the embarrassing moment when he ran the London marathon only to shit his pants. While talking to his funny friends in Edinburgh, Withnail got the sense that they’d all come to Fringe prepared to deliver more emotionally powerful shows. Perhaps he could write such a show this year.

He reminds us of the adage, be careful what you wish for, for the comedy gods and/or the karmic gods conspired to give him a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. That pants-shitting in London? That was only the start. Withnail may be able to joke about how he tried to put off his self-care needs just to catch a flight to a gig, only to run into more terrible toilet troubles. But as we learn at the very beginning of this hour, Withnail learned — in the middle of recording a comedy podcast — that his medical situation was dire enough for doctors to demand he hospitalize himself immediately in Edinburgh.

So now he’s got an improperly proper shit show on his hands. The good news is this hour fills the room with laughs, not with poo, over and over and over again. The bad news? Withnail still must deal with his chronic illness, so he never knows when it might get worse, might sidetrack his comedy career, might necessitate major surgeries. Every day may become an adventure. For this Fringe, he learned to adapt by telling us about 10 of those days, and by building this hour five minutes at a time. Five minutes each for each day he no longer takes for granted.

Liam Withnail: Chronic Boom runs through Aug. 27 at Monkey Barrel 2

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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