Jason Byrne: Wrecked But Ready
- Jay Richardson
- 1 October 2019
This article is from 2019
Having split from his wife, the Irishman's stage act remains gleefully divorced from reality
Bouncing on stage with a literal spring in his step, courtesy of £200 anti-gravity boots, Jason Byrne has found that splitting from his wife of 20 years is a decidedly bittersweet experience. True, he's now free to make rash purchases and indulge in the slobbish behaviour of a 47-year-old singleton going to seed. But with a significant amount of projection, it now seems fair to assume that in his world men have always been gormless, horny idiots, with women as controlling shrews. He likens his current perspective to that of a racehorse that has unseated its rider, cantering about the stage in gangly, flailing cluelessness.
As ever, the Irishman's peerless skill is aligning an audience to his worldview with superb and extensive crowd work. Through his own idiocy, incessant curiosity, and mishearing of their responses, he fosters a community of the touched and eccentric with a mythology all their own. In an increasingly woke era, his generalisations on gender might seem regressive, but they're grounded in his own reality, most strikingly in the mutually sustaining crabbiness of his aged parents.
Besides, he tests the stereotypes by clashing the old and new, rushing like an excited audience member himself to witness his 'drunk, racist' 80-year-old father meeting his Swedish lesbian granddaughter and her trans partner for the first time. For all his redoubtable energy, Byrne truly appreciates the life-force of a particularly Celtic strain of misery and strife.
As his walkout music betrays, after the planting of paedophile priests in the audience's mind, much of Byrne's supposed ad-libbing is simply circling around the directions he wants to go anyway, despite his protests to the contrary. And his daft finale, in which he calls back to a routine by physically reprising it with 'volunteers' pitted against each other, has long been a staple of his tours. But it's no less enjoyable nonsense for that. With his gurning recreation of angry sex or admission of an embarrassing bowel movement and disposal that would shame a baboon, there's a twisted Peter Pan quality to this ageless stand-up that always makes him watchable.
Jason Byrne: Wrecked But Ready is on tour until Sunday 1 December. Seen at Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline, Saturday 28 September.