By NOEL MURPHY
IT’S AN old rule when going out to watch a comedian perform on stage: don’t park too close to the stage.
It’s best typified in the Les Paterson experience where anyone who gets too close to the dishevelled Barry Humphreys character is virtually assured of ending up covered in water, spittle or something else unsavoury – and that’s if they’re lucky.
Irish comic Jason Byrne, headed Geelong’s way this weekend, is a little less likely to smother audience members in bodily fluids but anyone who doesn’t fancy being hauled on stage and lampooned mercilessly should park themselves a little further back in the crowd.
This year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival featured Byrne hauling one hapless Geelong mug up on stage and haranging him with with several other suckers in tow in what can only be described as hilarious fashion.
The first copped a pasting over the pronunciation of his home town, Ballina, the third a withering denunciation of his Keilor as Kilo and Geelong’s Shane a ragging for his anal-like certainty of travel times.
Asked Bynre: “Where you from Shane?”
Byrne: “Is that far from here?”
Shane: “An hour.”
Shane: “Fifty-seven minutes” (with a give-or-take hand wave).
Byrne, stunned and glaring at audience: “Fifty-fooking-seven minutes? Look, I swear to God, these are not plants. These are ordinary folks, on my life.”
Byrne’s best resource is often the punter coming to hear him – and sitting in the front rows.
Of course, 15 minutes of fame might be right up a Byrne fan’s alley but they should consider themselves well-cautioned if heading to Geelong Performing Arts Centre this Saturday night to see him, a comedian that Britain’s The Times christened “The king of live comedy”.
Byrne’s a regular face in Australia and starred at Melbourne International Comedy Festival in April.
He’s back in Australia just this week after tearing up Edinburgh where he was consistently the biggest-selling comedy act in the history of the city’s fringe festival.
Byrne’s credit list is as long as his arm, including most recently ae 2013 Royal Variety Performance, The Graham Norton Show and Live at the Apollo on BBC1 as well as his own show, Anonymous, in Ireland.
In Australia Byrne is a regular on the prestigious Melbourne International Comedy Festival annual televised galas and The Great Debate as well as Network Ten’s The Project and This Week Live.
Byrne has hosted three series of The Jason Byrne Show on BBC Radio 2, for which he won a prestigious Sony Radio Gold Award for Best Comedy in 2011. He has also released three live DVDs including his latest, Special Eye Live.
Byrne performs at GPAC from 7.30pm Saturday.