Jason Byrne: That's Not A Badger
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2004
Jason's inspired, original brand of high-energy lunacy ensures there is no other comedian presently like him and no two performances will ever be the same.
That's Not A Badger provides the manically effusive Jason Bryne with the perfect platform to demonstrate his spontaneous brilliance at audience interaction.
And the boisterous crowd he attracts are the sort of who like reciprocate, too, which means the initial promise of the usual good-natured 'what do you do for a living?' repartee quickly degenerates into something a lot more spirited and funny.
Byrne's technique is to explode with mock fury whenever he gets a response he considers poor. And that's most of them, lending an insane vigour to his performance that energises the room.
The lively backchat eventually leads us to the game which gives the show its title, tonight played by two 'volunteers' who turn out to be doctors so young they make Dougie Howser MD look like a has-been. This is more uranium for Bryne's comedy reactor, as his animated disbelief goes into meltdown.
It's a frantic game, in which the contestants simply have to yell out if the image presented to them is a badger or not. But the joy is in the way Byrne gets so breathlessly excited at the outcome, like a hyperactive five-year-old juiced up on Lucozade.
That's not the only game of the night; next he Sellotapes items together to make zany hybrids, his contenders' task being to choose the right name for these odd creations. But, at Bryne's instigation, it all descends to the verge of chaos, creating a brilliantly anarchic spirit.
The third and final game is the human Guess Who? which Bryne performed in last year's festival, even though Howard Read got there first. You would have thought he'd have got the hang of the rules by now, but again he feigns ignorance getting the audience to repeatedly stand up and sit down like Simon Says gone wrong.
There are a few snippets of actual material in the show, just a few inconsequential observational asides about the pitfalls of living with a woman, but they're hardly a key component. In fact, Byrne uses his script like most other comics use banter: sparsely.
Instead, he lets his recklessly overexcited inner child do most the work, and however reserved you are, you can't help but warm to his lively tomfoolery.
Date of review: Aug 2004