Fringe review – Jason Byrne

Jason Byrne: Shy Pigs, With Wigs, Hidden in the Twigs 

****

ASSEMBLY @ ASSEMBLY HALL (VENUE 35)

THE phrase “infectious humour” is a terrible cliché, but it’s the most accurate way to describe the experience of watching Jason Byrne. The Irish comic, returning for his 11th Fringe, appears to be borderline insane, strutting about the stage like a peacock, effing and blinding in his Dublin accent, messing up his own hair and laughing at himself constantly.

Which is all fine, because everyone else is laughing too. The jokes aren’t all golden nuggets of inspired wit, but Byrne is such a gifted showman that if you don’t join in and laugh you’ll feel like there’s something wrong with you.

Perhaps it’s his booming Irish accent, which sounds like it was tailor-made for the stand-up comedian, but more likely it’s the sight of Byrne dry-humping the floor or bending his back in exasperation at an audience member’s answer to one of his questions.

The show’s title is a nice rhyme, but quite irrelevant, because this is basically Byrne sparking off the audience and filling the gaps with diatribes about his seven-year-old son (who acts like a “mad, drunken tramp” and gets away with it) or the Royal Variety Performance, during which Byrne got drunk at the pub next door and almost soiled himself at the sight of Camilla appearing over Charles’s shoulder.

A word of warning: if you are easily offended, keep well clear of Byrne’s line of vision. He finds the ridiculous, snobby and idiotic qualities in everyone he picks out, and he will refer back to them for the duration of the hour. A rather too-well-spoken youth in the front row invoked Byrne’s ire, but at least he was laughing on the outside while he privately willed the comedian’s violent death.

It has to be said that Byrne isn’t the cleverest stand-up on the circuit. Some of the material is as clichéd as my opening description, but somehow he renders it all tearfully funny. On leaving I heard an old dear saying it was “good but I do wish he didn’t have to swear quite so much”. That alone is reason enough to go and see him.

Until 27 August. Today 8.40pm

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