Since Jason Byrne won the Perrier Best Newcomer Award in 1998 he has established himself as one the most consistent comedians appearing at the Fringe. It comes as a surprise, therefore, that there are more than few empty seats tonight. Perhaps it’s the change of venue, a little off the beaten track at the EICC, or perhaps it’s the £20 price tag – whatever the reason, those that have come out soon discover that they have made an excellent choice.
Byrne’s material has never been groundbreaking – tonight he examines the differences between men and women, sex after marriage and how to be a good parent – but his delivery is second to none. His enthusiasm for silliness endears himself to the audience, at times resembling a young Billy Connolly in his rubber-like faces, ridiculous voices and spasmodic body contortions. At other times he demonstrates his prowess at audience banter, spending long periods happily wandering down improvised diversions (those he talks to will later receive their own applause at the end of the show, such is their involvement).
There is an emphasis on rudeness tonight, Byrne indelicately discussing such topics as vaginal wind, the correct technique for putting on a condom, and the literary worth of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, but the pièce de résistance is a re-creation of a David Copperfield magic trick, complete with audience participation. As he pulls the strings of his volunteers, you realise that the puppeteer is himself a puppet guided expertly by the God of Mirth.