By Rebecca Birmingham.
Jason Byrne is a character like no other. From the moment he enthusiastically took to the stage in his Dublin performance of Cirque du Byrne, the audience were filled with a surge of his mirthful energy. Byrne created a relaxed atmosphere, but with moments of sheer madness thrown in, the packed Vicar Street was captured by his wit for the entire ninety-minute gig.
A cunning move by Byrne was to use quite a lot of unoriginal material. I feel a true comedian can be measured by their ability to tell the same jokes we have heard before, but keep you clutching your stomach for breath. Byrne uses his personality and unique mannerisms to transform a skit full of overused Irish stereotypes into side-splittingly hilarious act. Also, his array of scarily accurate facial expressions often proved more valuable in his comedic bag of tricks than any joke could.
Byrne displayed his expertise in improvisation with members of the audience. An outrageous example comes from about halfway through the gig. The audience picked up on a man wandering through the crowd wearing a mask shaped as a horses’ head. Strange, I know. Byrne summoned the man to the stage where we learned he was on his ‘stag’ do (hence the horses head) and was forbidden from removing the mask. A bizarre occurrence, Byrne dealt with it perfectly and it became a highlight of the show as the audience erupted with laughter, which took several minutes to contain.
The audience were not terrorized as much as expected, with the exception of the finale which saw three men hold spinning plates as Byrne played the xylophone on a certain area in a bid to see who could hold out the longest. Byrne worked with the audience, using his brilliant skills of observation to entice them to participate. Most of the front row could enjoy the show minus the fear of total humiliation.
Apart from the sheer brilliance of the finale and Jason’s theatrical attire, the Cirque theme seemed slightly irrelevant. Leaving the show, I wondered how this wonderfully entertaining act has not yet won any significant awards in his field. Jason Byrne definitely met expectations of any one looking for a good night out and some tummy tightening laughs.