Reviewed on Friday September 20
On a blustery Friday evening, in a theatre resembling the inside of Noah’s Ark, Ireland’s overly-animated comedian, Jason Byrne performed to an audience of middle-aged North Shore suburbanites and faithful British and Irish ex-pats.
Bouncing onto stage, Byrne’s unstructured and high energy set turned the crowd into the main attraction, or in some cases, victims, deploying his quick wit and observant social commentary with mixed results. Renowned for involving audience members into his show, there were orchestrated crowd Space hopper line dancing and pranks played on crowd members who left halfway during the set.
Byrne relied heavily on cheap gags and tirades of expletives yelled in a thick Irish accent, or in nasal Aussie bogan voice. There was, however, an undeniable rapport with the appreciative crowd as he ridiculed the North Shore’s middle-class pretensions – ‘Oh, I’m so poshhhh. I’m from the North Shawwww’ – and compared the differences in behavior between a teenage and middle-aged couple.
His anecdote of an encounter in an Australian pharmacy provided the obligatory tale of stuffing suppositories up where the sun doesn’t shine, while his story of childhood discipline failed to hit the mark. Admittedly, Byrne was suffering from a heady mix of jet lag, fever and hangover, which may have explained a number of stuff ups when it came to his prepared material.
That’s not to say the packed crowd didn’t lap every second of his show as Byrne’s mad hatter energy went down a treat. One moment that summed up the show was Byrne instigating the classic school ground trick of a whole row moving up a seat. This provided the memorable image of a bemused yet seemingly nonchalant Irishman standing in the middle of the crowd sipping his beer.
Running close to an hour and a half, the show trailed off by the end but the crowd, in high spirits, had clearly enjoyed Byrne’s energetic brand of wisecracks and agitated impressions.
BY LARRY LAI