At 46, Jason Byrne’s assertion that he’s old enough to no longer censor himself, to say whatever he likes, seems redundant given that he’s hardly been the model of restraint in his stand-up career. Nevertheless he’s lately developed a crotchety irritation with modern parenting, angrily contrasting the cotton wool-enshrouded culture his kids are growing up with to the more old-fashioned approach of his parents.
Jason Byrne - You Can Come In, But Don’t Start Anything, Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline ****
As usual with Byrne, there’s plenty of grotesque physical recreation, no doubt with some degree of cartoonish exaggeration. But although he keeps it light, there’s uncharacteristic edge in his acknowledgment of his father’s alcoholism and laissez-faire attitude to his children, if not towards the comedian’s mother’s corporal punishment. Marvelling at their longevity, Byrne conveys the tension in their marriage through their eccentricities, his tone a mix of incredulity and awe at their idiosyncrasies. The Irishman’s cynicism about marriage might be attributable to the reported breakdown of his own. Dissonantly, though, he speaks of a domestic situation in the present tense, with his other half a disbelieving observer to his eejitness, after he overdoses on magnesium tablets with explosively graphic results.
Still, for all his jaded outlook, but not affecting the commitment of his performance, Byrne knows how to close a show with a big, daft finale. Although abruptly tagged on and rather formulaic, given his recourse to similar stunts in the past, the sight of five blokes pulled from the audience being made to pencil roll atop one another for no good reason sends everyone away smiling. - Jay Richardson