Alex Kealy: Winner Takes All

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

With more wealth and influence than most nations, big tech companies have departed from the utopian ideals they were founded upon and now subject us to unprecedented levels of surveillance, addiction and misinformation.

And it’s that, rather than his ex working for Google, that’s led Alex Kealy to stand up and fight the power of Silicon Valley.

An informed, critical thinker with reasoned political principles, emotional intelligence is something Kealy is still working on. His opening salvo mixing a satire of Conservative policy with wank jokes is an unusual cocktail he acknowledges. At the same time, an anal sex gag is at once an off-brand wrong-footer, a chance to establish his worldy credentials and an unquestionably insecure humblebrag.

In this break-up show, of sorts, Kealy reveals that he’s deleted Twitter from his phone and otherwise severely restricted his use of it. But he can’t entirely cut ties, an apt illustration of his simultaneous scepticism of the virtues of, and total reliance on app technology.

He’s also now in the odd place of ‘smashing’ his personal life – able to finally give detached vent to all the bitterness and recrimination he felt when he split from his now ex girlfriend on the eve of the 2019 Fringe.

 Kealy needs it known that he’s moved on from this emasculating ordeal. He paints a harsh picture of his former partner, whose alcohol-induced cruelty and aggressively expressed sexual assertiveness wore him down six months before she cheated on him – a mercy transgression, in the circumstances, as it killed the toxic relationship stone dead.

Kealy doesn’t spare himself from criticism, the 32-year-old noting that her historical preference for younger men, with him the exception, reflects upon his immaturity.

Noting the tenseness in the crowd these admissions provoke and acknowledging that stand-up only ever gives you one side of the story, he nevertheless establishes a theme of self-enabled abuse. Kealy then draws parallels with the Stockholm Syndrome-like relationship people have evolved with social media as it besieges our mental health. At the same time, he has a grudging admiration for the get-up-and-go and pioneering spirit of the billionaire tech entrepreneurs.

While he’s not the first comic to note the ominous undertone in Google’s former corporate motto ‘Don’t Be Evil’ or the harm inherent in Facebook’s once stated aim to ‘move fast and break things’, Kealy lands some solid blows on the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and higher education sceptic Peter Thiel.

He mocks their impending apocalypse survival plans as megalomania tipped into paranoia, while empathising with their drive to reach the top. He sees in Musk an Alexander with no more worlds to conquer, taking to Twitter to be a second-rate stand-up, just trolling everyone.

Social media may have been conceived as a progressive force but it simply stokes jealousy and division, Kealy argues. Moreover, the culture war siege mentality that it’s fostered in older generations is a massive issue. It’s all very well people like him trying to coax his parents back down to moderate, de-radicalised views. But they’ve seen him at his most infantile and scatological, his authority again in ruins.

As he  the friends he has lost to Covid conspiracy theories, the utter destruction of his attention span and the app he now relies on to tell him his emotional state from the night before, because simply mentally retrieving it is too much effort, there’s a fatalist streak running through Winner Takes All, up to and including Kealy’s bucket speech.

But as a dispatch from a world blithely distracting itself with triviality while on fire, it’s an archly perceptive and bleakly amusing protest.

• Alex Kealy: Winner Takes All is on at Monkey Barrel at The Hive at 4.15pm

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Published: 23 Aug 2022

Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2017

Alex Kealy: The Art of the Keal

Edinburgh Fringe 2018

Alex Kealy: A Kealy's Heel

Edinburgh Fringe 2019

Alex Kealy: Rationale

Edinburgh Fringe 2022

Alex Kealy: Winner Takes All

Edinburgh Fringe 2024

Alex Kealy: The Fear


We do not currently hold contact details for Alex Kealy's agent. If you are a comic or agent wanting your details to appear here, for a one-off fee of £59, email

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