Jason Byrne: Cats Under Mats Having Chats With Bats

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

It can’t be legal to have this much fun. Jason Byrne’s manic, magic stand-up is quite simply full-on, doubled-up, gasping-for-oxygen hilarious.

He’s warmer than the sun and gives off just as much energy as he prowls the stage, delivering material that’s simultaneously both stupidly immature and festering with adult bitterness, the acrimonious resentment stemming from the fact that he can no longer do exactly what he pleases.

Except, of course, for the 60 electrifying minutes when he’s on stage. Here, anything goes. There’s material aplenty, but he’ll happily tear it all up if something odd in the audience catches his ear. Almost everything does. His incredulity is on a hair-trigger, ready to explode like comic nitroglycerin at every marginally nonsensical comment. Spotting a policeman on one side of the room, and some posh schoolkids on the other, allows him to improvise an increasingly nonsensical subplot out of nothing. It makes the gig feel unique, as be builds in-jokes you know no other audience will ever witness.

Between audience-led detours, Byrne regales us with tales of this simple Irish lad trying to cope with a clearly illogical life. Moving from Dublin to a quiet rural house has him terrified of his own reflection, and when it comes to DIY, he makes Frank Spencer look like Handy Andy. And he clearly doesn’t understand his demanding wife, especially what she wants in bed.

Everyday irritants are out to get him, driving to the brink of madness. He rebels by suggesting shoplifting, despite the presence of that copper, or by capturing his childishness vicariously through his eight-year-old son. You suspect that the most mature and well-balanced half of that relationship isn’t the one going to school each day.

This thoroughly endearing blend of oppressed puerilism and petty exasperation, combined with a powerhouse delivery that leaves even himself cracking up with laughter, makes for an irresistibly potent cocktail. Drink deep…

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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