Jason Byrne Hates...

Note: This review is from 2003

Review by Steve Bennett

With his unrivalled skills at teasing comedy gold from his audience, it's surely only a matter of time before Jason Byrne lands his own game show.

But instead of waiting for an out-of-touch TV executive to spot his talent, Byrne has devised his own format - and this is the uproariously manic result.

"This is going to be highly structured," he announces at the start. "No messing." But he's kidding no one.

Four rounds and a final are planned until the triumphant winner can get his hands on the prized tacky porcelain figure - which means five opportunities for Byrne to mercilessly ridicule his audience.

Nothing ever floors him - and if it does, he mocks the stupidity of the answer. He can be surprisingly savage with some of his attacks, too. One moody punter who refused to take part in any of the participation becomes Byrne's whipping boy, the target of some downright aggressive comments. But the fun-loving Irishman still gets away with it, we just trust he's being cheeky.

Those victims he hauls up on stage escape more lightly. Byrne may poke fun at them, but only in the playful, pantomime spirit that pervades the whole thing.

There's a touch of surreal Shooting Stars anarchy and about some of the games 'chosen' by the hilariously-rigged Wheel Of Hate, with contestants having to decipher what food the weather orders in a café or play a perverted version of Countdown.

One reservation is that Byrne isn't the first to come up with the human version of Guess Who? - Howard Read used it in his show last year - but the fun is in the playing it, not necessarily the idea itself.

The whole show is cheap as chips, possibly cheaper - cardboard seems the main prop - providing more opportunities for Byrne's comically exaggerated disbelief at the low-budget circumstances he's forced to work under.

Incredulity is Byrne's biggest weapon - he cannot believe the ridiculous games, the tackiness, the idiocy of the punters - and his mock frustration drives the laughs.

But he's clearly loving every minute - and he, and equally undisciplined sidekicks John Henderson and PJ Gallagher - perpetually fight the urge to corpse into hysterics. It's an infectious feeling. Everybody loves Jason Byrne Hates

Review date: 1 Aug 2003
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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