Jason Byrne is one of the finest and funniest comedians at work right now and what’s more he’s coming to De Montfort Hall on Friday 4th November.
Don’t just take my word for it. On BBC1’s The Graham Norton Show, the Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush, no less, recently praised Jason and likened him to the late, great Tommy Cooper.
“To be compared with Tommy Cooper was incredible,” beams Jason, who won the Chortle Award for Best Headliner in 2007. “He was one of the most amazing comedians I’ve ever seen. I can retire now!”
Don’t worry – Jason is not retiring! In fact, the great news is that you are now able to see his highly original act for yourself. He is hitting the road this autumn with a fantastic new show, “Cirque Du Byrne,” which will be coming to a venue near you very soon.
In the show, Jason underlines that he is a hugely inventive comedian who makes terrific use of audience participation. Dressed in a very striking red ringmaster’s jacket and black top hat straight out of Gangs of New York, he performs an inspired, anarchic act.
It is an hour of delirious, non-stop tom-foolery, which employs props to great effect. The show is a unique brand of joyful, high-energy, intelligent lunacy. There is no other comedian quite like Jason.
The critics agree. Metro calls his show, “An hour of stand-up so joyous, the clinically depressed should get it on prescription.” Meanwhile, Chortle describes the stand-up as, “Full-on, doubled-up, gasping-for-oxygen hilarious.” For their part, the Mirror dub him: “a comedy god.”
Jason, who is also a massive star in Australia, makes for mesmerising company. When we meet in the run-up to the shows, Jason tells me can’t wait to get out on tour once again. He feeds off his audience.
“My style of comedy is to use the audience so much,” says the comic, who has also starred in his own Radio 2 programme, The Jason Byrne Show, which picked up a very well-deserved Sony Gold Award for Best Comedy earlier this year.
“I weave them in and out of my stand-up. When people leave my show, they all have nicknames and they all feel like they’ve been part of it. They feel like they’ve been on an adventure, a rollercoaster of fun and madness.”
So what can we expect from “Cirque Du Byrne”? Jason reveals one routine which he perfected in Australia, where it caught the eye of Geoffrey Rush. “I get three men out of the audience and ask them to spin plates. Then I play ‘Popcorn’ on their t*sticles with xylophone sticks!
“My show is about trying to find more and more stuff like that which is absolutely unique and no one has ever seen before.”
Jason adds that the joke is always on him, not the audience. “When I won the Sony Gold Award, the judges called it, ‘Organic comedy with great timing and huge warmth. The judges were won over by the best use of the audience in any entry this year and by its consistent laugh-out-loud moments’.
“I’ve never upset anyone. When I play their t*sticles, those three guys are heroes. They take a bow to huge applause at the end. I’m always the butt of the jokes.”
Another example of Jason’s great talent for audience participation in “Cirque Du Byrne” comes when he asks as many people as possible to climb into a pair of Spanx women’s support pants.
“I’ve managed to squeeze four men into a pair,” Jason smiles at the exquisitely daft memory. “Then I got them to shuffle around the stage and go over tiny horse-jumps.
“That’s unique. No comedian could steal that because no one else does it. What I’m doing is back to basics. It’s very silly, but people love it. When I last did it, they were crying with laughter.”
Another tremendous part of “Cirque du Byrne” is the objects the audiences leave the comic in a box at the front of the stage marked “Jason’s gifts.”
“What’s the weirdest gift?” Jason wonders. “A slingshot monkey. When you pulled it back, it made monkey noises! Someone else brought me a ball of elastic bands rolled together – that had taken them two months to make!
“In Australia, Irish people would put Irish crisps and teabags in the box because they thought I was lonely and a nice Irish snack would cheer me up! It’s great because I reach into the box and I never know what I’m going to find. I always hear brilliant stories behind the props.”
Jason, who has given memorable performances on such TV shows as Live at the Apollo, The Royal Variety Performance, One Night Stand, Celebrity Juice and Marco’s Kitchen Burnout, goes on to explain what inspired the title and theme of “Cirque Du Byrne.”
“I’m a big fan of Cirque Du Soleil because it’s not everyday circus. So I called this Cirque Du Byrne because it’s not everyday stand-up. This has more of an event feel. People have no idea what I’ll do next. I might end up forcing audience members into Spanx pants – which is certainly a talking point!”
Jason, who hails from Dublin, reckons that “Cirque Du Byrne”, is, “One of my best shows. It’s helped me find out what I really want to do. I don’t want to be a straight stand-up in a suit – there are so many of those already. I want to be something completely different.”
Above all, Jason always gives his devoted fans loads of laughs and top value for money. “My mentality is that they’ve paid for tickets, and they expect a laugh. I’m sure they’d be baffled by some comedians who say, ‘I’m going to tell you a story, but there will be no gag for five minutes’. How does that work?
“I want people to leave my shows thinking I worked as hard as I could for the ticket price. I see some stand-ups and think, ‘they could have done a lot more to earn their money’. That’s why I put so much effort into the show.”
And, Jason concludes with a final winning laugh, “I have a short attention span. Doing this show keeps me interested and my head busy. All the time on stage, I’m thinking, ‘I don’t want to get bored. Maybe I should play someone’s t*sticles now!’”
Jason Byrne’s tour hits Leicester on Friday 4th November and tickets can be purchased HERE.
For further information about Jason and the “Cirque Du Byrne” tour plese visit HERE.