Steve Byrne Champion

Steve Byrne Champion
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Standup comedian Steve Byrne's 2014 special, Champion, pushes audiences out of the comfort zone of political correctness very early in the special. Most comedians are careful to ease audiences into enjoying irreverence. Instead, Byrne chooses to tell his tamer jokes later in the special; these jokes are primarily about marriage.
 
When it comes to marriage, he is able to offer a well-rounded perspective that many can easily relate to. He touches on dating, then discusses the early years of marriage through his experiences with his wife, and the later years of marriage through his view of his parents' relationship. This section of the special includes some of the funniest moments in Champion.
 
For that reason, the order of the material makes sense because his stronger jokes are closer to the end of the performance. Having said that, since these jokes have greater universal appeal, are based on his personal experiences, and are more politically correct, they would have been better placed at the beginning. For those who aren't familiar with Byrne's comedy, some may find his earlier jokes jarring.
 
One of the first jokes Byrne tells is about calling a woman the c-word. The joke is told in a clever way, but the c-word could drive some audiences away simply because it is said so early in the performance. Also, it's followed by several more jokes about women: fat girls, mother earth, and older women. Similarly, Byrne's jokes about gay guys, rape, AIDS, and stereotypes could also rub the politically sensitive the wrong way. Then again, every comedian doesn't have to make his or her work palatable to the most sensitive viewer.
 
Champion is good but it requires certain kinds of audiences who enjoy a comedian who speaks his mind, shares his views on a wide range of topics, and doesn't just flirt with vulgarity and then back off for fear of offending someone. Byrne makes fun of everyone equally but he's slow to get to himself. So, if you tend to bristle easily then keep watching. Because the longer you watch Champion, the more likely it is that you'll find yourself laughing out loud.
 
Exclaim! is reviewing every standup comedy special currently available on Netflix Canada, including this one. You can find a complete list of reviews so far here.