Strangely funny evening

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Jason Byrne - Blackpool Grand Theatre

It wasn’t clear which part of the “strictly over 16s” warning the parents of the two clearly pre-teen boys on the front row of this comedian’s Cirque Du Byrne show hadn’t understood.

Nor was it immediately obvious who was more surprised, the fast talking Irish funnyman – who after a moment’s hesitation decided to go ahead as planned with a set which would have been considerably shorter without the liberal application of a certain four letter word; or the theatre management who moved the family into a “legally hidden” area for the show’s second half.

The mother and father in question clearly knew what to expect, they’d braved an overheated car engine to arrive a few minutes late from Liverpool.

All grist to the mill for a comedian who uses his audience to inspire a free flowing and seemingly spontaneous set pitched somewhere between the energy of Lee Evans and the anarchy of Rhod Gilbert.

“Did you think it really was a circus?” he asked the hapless parents. But then again he was wearing a ringmasters’ uniform and had just completed an introductory Irish dance at the time.

This was his first ever trip to Blackpool he admitted and clearly found the place rather surreal – especially when right on cue the evening’s German fireworks display brought back memories of “the troubles”.

Not that he couldn’t get his own back with a routine which includes squeezing two audience members and himself into one pair of Spandex underwear and closing his act by miming the chart topper Popcorn in the style of a xylophonist on a certain part of the anatomy of three more audience victims.

And he calls Blackpool weird?