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Andrew Ryan: Ryanopoly
Published on Sunday, 19 August 2012
4

4 stars

Just the Tonic at The Tron (venue website)
Comedy
2-13, 15-26 Aug, 7:40pm-8:40pm
Reviewed by Alasdair Lane

 Recommended for age 18+ only. Venue may not permit under-18's - check with venue before booking.

All nonchalant and unassuming, you'd not be alone in wondering if this really is Andrew Ryan slinking onto stage, and not just some drunken chancer. Well rest assured, the subsequent hour of comedy, while not perfect, will more than allay these fears. Ryanopoly, Ryan's debut Fringe performance, may be a bit inconsistent and cagey in places, but on the whole is a thoroughly hilarious and cleverly written show which excels at finding the comedy in the everyday ordinary.

I'll warn you now, Ryanopoly does not hit the ground running. Or walking for that matter. The tortoise personified, Ryan is a slow starter. His opening audience participation was poorly judged – targeting the guy by himself at the front in a Boyle-esque attack, but without the conviction to see it through, delivering a sheepish and cringeworthy apology. Rotten start out of the way, things could only get better, right?

Yes. Though not sticking to the advertised theme of economics terribly closely, the tangents are well worth getting on board with. Bouncing from his Catholic education (which provided, for me, a much needed dark edginess to the routine) to the utter uselessness of the Irish Army and much more, Ryan had variety and originality to his material. Indeed, it wasn't too long until he had shaken off the crowd-alienating start and once again forayed into his audience, this time emitting a newfound sense of comfort and working up a good few thigh-slapping moments.

It was, however, roughly on the forty-minute mark when he really found his feet. Staying truer to the theme than before, the real highlight of the show was the comical advice on abusing a bank's over-zealous security measures for personal gain. Obviously a well-rehearsed spiel, the delivery was pitch perfect and content original. Riding the crowd's energy, Ryan went from strength to strength with an equally inventive follow up – a truly hysterical rebuttal-laden insurance phone call recording. This playful, relatable humour really encapsulated the tone of the performance.

As I said however, the show wasn't perfect, and that's not just pointing at the intro. There was a tangible amateurishness to some of the routine, including a few lead balloons and fluffed punchlines. This was, admittedly, at times endearing and did feed into his “regular guy” kind of comedy, but for a performer at the largest arts festival on earth it was a little disappointing. The revelation that he's only been a professional comic for two years offers a simple explanation – lack of practice.

Andrew Ryan is a very, very funny (and clever) man, and Ryanopoly is most certainly testament to this. It isn't a flawless performance, as the tragically poor start made abundantly clear. But find its feet the performance does, providing some of the most original and funny stuff I've seen all month and more than meriting a recommendation. The tortoise personified, Ryan wins in the end.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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