Jason Byrne

Note: This review is from 2002

Review by Steve Bennett

Few comics could repeatedly scream 'Get the fuck back to your seat' at some weak-bladdered punter - and still come across as friendly.

What's more, despite his initial protests, the hapless patsy meekly returned to the auditorium to sit out the rest of the show.

It's that innate likeability and pure command over his audience that makes Jason Byrne such a pleasure to watch.

He's like an overpowering schoolteacher, chastising the naughty children in his care for whatever minor transgression they have committed.

When a huge crowd of latecomers arrive, for example, he rattles along the line dishing out a conveyer-belt of putdowns. Then rewinds the show to the start to show what they missed.

He threw out one punter for not knowing his name, sending another to the 'sin box' and physically dragging a third from the bar at the back where he was shyly hiding to give him front-row seats, actually on the stage.

That people instinctively want to open up to him also produces some fine comic moments - such as when he stumbles across a man who didn't know his own wedding anniversary.

Yet such off-the-cuff banter, by its nature, doesn't always produce such comedy gold - and even though Byrne never drops the ball, you are still sometimes left waiting for something of substance to kick in.

It's not that he doesn't have material - such as the brief digressions into the Irish attitude to immigration - but that he prefers not to use it.

Instead, he rules as the comic ringmaster - overseeing good-natured audience participation as he recreates a school nativity play and persuades the audience to sing Christmas carols with every lyric replaced by 'chocolate bin'. And no, he never explains why an August show has such a yuletide theme.

It's all great fun, guaranteed to put a smile on every face. Which, after all, is the point.

Review date: 1 Aug 2002
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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