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Fox in the Snow Presents 

Jason Byrne

People's Puppeteer

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After sell out tours in Australia and becoming the highest selling act at the Edinburgh Fringe, Irish megastar Jason Byrne finally makes his New Zealand International Comedy Festival debut.  Promising to be anarchy-packed and of acrobatic proportions, the definitive clown of comedy pushes his riotous show to the edge.

“Jaw achingly funny, there is no better way to describe it” **** Herald Sun

”Byrne is at his best when his dial is cranked to 10” **** The Age

"A comedy god" ***** Mirror

"His status as one of the world's best comedians is unquestionable" ***** Sunday Herald Sun

www.jasonbyrne.ie

 

Showing In:

Auckland

Dates:

Tue 1 - Sat 5 May, 9pm

Venues:

Rangatira at Q, Auckland

Tickets:

Adults $32.00
Conc. $27.50
Groups 8+ $27.50* service fees may apply

Bookings:

09 309 9771

Show Duration:

1 hour
 

Critics Review

Delaney MacDonald - Entertain Me'The crowd left murmuring much the same thing: “So. Damn. Funny.” 'open/close
When the poster outside the door announces the comedian as a ‘comedy god’, you know you’re going to leave the show either sorely disappointed, or with a jaw aching from laughter.

Thankfully, Jason Byrne overwhelmingly delivered the latter last night in a high-octane set beginning with a frenzied Riverdance, and ending with a well-amused crowd. The crowd left murmuring much the same thing: “So. Damn. Funny.”

Like all true comedy pros, Byrne is in his element when he’s working off the cuff and he spent most of last night’s show bantering with the audience. I don’t like to flatter myself that we were any more ‘special’ than usual, but he certainly has a knack for drawing the lunatics out of the woodwork.

Or maybe it’s just that we all go a little crazy around Jason – moulded by his capable wit, various audience members were transformed into bible fanatics, split personalities, and Tourette’s sufferers. Not to mention the rest of us became shrieking, convulsing hyenas.

Byrne may play the wrongly committed patient furiously trying to escape the madhouse, but there’s no doubt about who’s in charge here. This is riotous, tangible comedy that’s worthy of its hype. Listen to the voices and commit yourself while you can.

9/10

Lynette Walker, heraldsun.com.au'He retains the costume for an energetic bout of Irish dancing, but soon discards it before launching into a hour's worth of ripsnortingly ribald stand-up.'open/close
The title is a bit of a misnomer. As his latest show opens, Irish comedian Jason Byrne, decked out a marionette's jacket and top hat, is the puppet himself, being manipulated by a pair of giant hands, set to a majestic soundtrack befitting the opulent surrounds of the Athanuem.

He retains the costume for an energetic bout of Irish dancing, but soon discards it before launching into a hour's worth of ripsnortingly ribald stand-up. Explaining that he had to learn Irish dancing for the British TV show Born To Shine, Byrne says its pain level is akin to the crucifixion and decries the buckled footwear - "like a leprachaun; as if we aren't Irish enough". He is always quick to poke fun at his own nationality, its quirks and cliches.

Cutting a goofy, even endearing presence on stage, this long-time festival favourite actively engages - and engages with - his audience. He tells crowd anecdotes from the previous night's performance, displays an increasing knowledge for Melbourne suburbs in his geographical inquiries and has another audience member usher a pair of latecomers into empty front-row seats, milking the moment for laughs.

There is a fine line between entertaining and profane, and Byrne skirts dangerously close to the edge without ever toppling over - from the did-he-really-say-that descriptions of Qantas stewardesses to mistaking Sensodyne toothpaste for Savlon cream in a case of "itchy bum".

He apologises for the abundance of material about sex - "I'm just obsessed with it".

In less-assured hands, this could easily descend into the gutteral. But while there are plenty of moments of squeamishness here, Byrne keeps hold of the reins.

The show finishes off with two men being plucked from the front row to join Byrne for an encore of Irish dancing. Audience member Brendan so embraces his five minutes of fame that he gets his own solo "freestyling" performance.

This is Byrne's seventh trip to these shores, and there is good reason for that. He is one of the festival's big-name must-sees.

Stars: ★★★★
Miranda Lee - Comedy festival reviewer'There’s not much else to say, except do yourself a favour, and go see this show. You might see me there, I'm going again.'open/close
I went to see Jason Byrne last night, and now I'm worried. I am worried that no other shows I will be seeing throughout the Festival will measure up.

He was bustling, frisky, and a little bit nuts, and it worked so well. As the title of the show suggests, the People's Puppeteer expertly pulled the metaphorical strings of various members of the audience to form plenty of hilarious, awkward situations. Combined with his natter incorporating various accents, muttering and facial expressions, it felt as though the whole show as hardly planned at all, making it all the more captivating. Byrne relies mainly on his natural improvisation, comically intense manner and Irish charm with the audience, and it paid off. Not once did he lag in energy, through what turned out to be an hour and a half show, and as an audience member I found it revitalising, not tiring.

I left the Q theatre with that elusive feeling of heady delirium that only comes along once in a while, like after a good rollercoaster ride or a particularly risky skinny-dipping adventure in the neighbours' pool.

There’s not much else to say, except do yourself a favour, and go see this show. You might see me there, I'm going again.
Nicola Russell - stuff.co.nz'He pulls strings so well in fact, you could be forgiven for thinking some of the participants were plants.'open/close
The people's puppeteer is an apt name for Irish comedian Jason Byrne, who works the audience like puppets on a string, carefully plucking them out of the crowd to be part of the frenzied stand-up that is his show.

The plucking happened literally in fact for one reluctant Irishman he actually lifted on stage last night during his first ever New Zealand show.

Byrne's stand-up is over an hour of manic hilarity from his rip-roaring entrance by way of an Irish jig to his exit the same way, this time with two of the many audience members he now has on his side.

Audience members he frequently refers to in feigned disbelief, playfully and profanely mocking accents, noises, comments and the clothing of the aforementioned Irish gentleman.

By the end of the show, the audience is not only familiar with Byrne but with the trio, who have had their testicles played with xylophone sticks (oh yes he did), the fellow in the audience who thinks "umbrella" is slang for condom and the merry young woman in the front row who asks for Byrne's drink (only in New Zealand, he says, has he ever been asked for his drink).

He pulls strings so well in fact, you could be forgiven for thinking some of the participants were plants. They are not, and in previous interviews he has refuted this common belief.

In a routine smattered by his own manic laughter, he frequently teeters on the edge of too far, but expertly holds his ground despite broaching such subjects like his "cock eye" which wanders inwards when he's horny (his wife makes him wear an eye patch), the purpose of the ridge of his penis (you'll have to wait and see) and mistaking Sensodyne toothpaste for Savlon cream in his case of an "itchy bum".

High energy, high interaction and huge laughs, you'll leave this one with sore cheeks and in that slightly out of control place that good comedians can take you.
Nik Smythe - Theatreview.co.nz'"Jason Byrne's Aotearoa debut is a frenetic, hilarious shambles"'open/close
40 years old, with diminished control of bodily functions to prove it as he's not ashamed to tell you himself, Irishman Jason Byrne's Aotearoa debut is a frenetic, hilarious shambles.

A recorded high-energy introduction begins with the most ominously massive music ever written, Strauss's 'Also Spracht Zarathustra', as the strapping ginger protagonist appears, strung marionette-style to large sticks manipulated by giant puppet hands controlled from offstage, which he casts off Pinocchio-like to launch into a lusty Irish dance to a pop-rock power-jig. This carries on until just after I begin to wonder if this is going to be the whole show.

Sweating and out of breath Byrne hits the ground raving, a few light exclamations of excited dismay foreboding the more extreme levels of incredulity to come. His ornate black and red jacket and imposing frame, slightly stooped as if ready to brawl at the bat of an eye, gives the impression of a very tall gothic leprechaun.

Explaining it's his first time in New Zealand, Jason describes some of his own first impressions with a gush of bewilderment. He learns about Kiwi culture on the hop by expertly carousing with audience members in the first couple of rows, such as the brazen lass who asks for some of his drink (allegedly another career first), or the fellow Irishman who's pants and footwear get a minute of laughter simply out of Byrne's reaction to them.

He claims he's trying to cram four shows into an hour, but by this stage his selected audience scapegoats are doing half the show for him. Given the creatively technical intro, I expected more sophisticated sorts of games and tricks, but the most high-tech it gets its when he finally gets around to his first showpiece, playing the xylophone classic ‘Popcorn' with the courageous assistance of three tall lads, whose own remarks – e.g. that one plans to get his name in the bible – returns spades of comedy fodder for the remainder of the show.

By the end of an extended hour of continual mirth there's a sense that, if this is four shows rolled into one, we must have missed a fair chunk of the planned activities to make way for Byrne's protracted eruptions of masterful incredulity. Or perhaps that's the ultimate trick, conjuring the illusion that there was meant to be more than this, we just ran out of time.

The resultant feeling of the crowd is not that we were ripped off though; more like we've had a good laugh and witnessed a genuinely unique performance that won't be the same tomorrow night or any other.
Scott Kara - TVNZ.co.nz'"The intense, quick-witted and highly strung comedian delivered some raw unscripted comedy at its hilarious best."'open/close
Audience participation is key in Irishman Jason Byrne's People's Puppeteer show too. But when he realised he had such a willing crowd of "freaks" to work with he seemed to throw much of his pre-planned show out the window.

And the intense, quick-witted and highly strung comedian delivered some raw unscripted comedy at its hilarious best.

His first target was a fellow Irishman in the front row whom he man-handled on to stage to show everyone his jean shorts, and best of all was Arama (whose name was the source of much ridicule, with Byrne resorting to calling him Mahna Mahna instead), a funny chap who declared his desire to get his rather biblical sounding name in the Holy Book one day.

"You couldn't make this shit up," said Byrne looking bewildered.

Even his constant ribbing of the Kiwi accent never got tired.

"No wonder New Zealanders and Irish get on so well. We can't understand what the f*** each other are saying," he hooted.

The show, which clocked in well over its hour long schedule ("The only reason I'm trying to keep you here a little bit longer is to keep you mixing with the public"), was side-splitting right from Byrne's opening Irish jig, to his human xylophone (where he played the crotches of three blokes with various sized mallets), to the finale of more Irish dancing, only this time with audience members Greg, a fellow Catholic Irishman, and Ben the heathen Kiwi.

"This is excellent," laughed Byrne.

I left with my cheeks and belly aching.
Sharu Delilkan - Theatre Scenes'The energetic and spontaneous comic is probably the best handler of hecklers that I have ever seen.'open/close
Waiting for Jason Byrne to begin his first show in New Zealand gave me the chance scan the room. Strangely Q Theatre had stuck a ‘Q’ sticker on the back of each chair to make sure we knew where we were. Thanks guys!

When Byrne came on stage he was greeted by great fanfare and the mood was equally ‘awesome’. A word Byrne never heard over the next hour but one that would be displayed through the audience participation in the show. All I will say is: little did he know what was to come.

At every opportunity he included the audience and their reaction seemed to epitomise a distinct clash of cultures. And however many Irish he found in the crowd, the Kiwi responses from the audience seemed to dumbfound and delight Byrne at every turn.

He seemed genuinely chuffed to be in Aotearoa for the first time and his childish yet sometimes gullible nature was both refreshing and entertaining throughout.
At times the hecklers seem to give him the giggles, which is rare when as standup comedian is trying to show you how clever he is. But Byrne’s quiet confidence allowed the crowd to dictate a lot of his moves, most of which proved to be worth the risks he was willing to take. Some might have though it a bit naïve but believe you me, his bravery definitely paid great dividends.

The title of the show People’s Puppeteer totally befitted Jason Byrne’s delivery at the NZ Comedy Festival.

The energetic and spontaneous comic is probably the best handler of hecklers that I have ever seen. He glided through each situation with such ease you could have sworn that all his hecklers (and stage volunteers) were plants. However the beauty was, they were not, but the show moved on smoothly like a well-oiled machine.

If you’re looking for someone with glib scripted jokes to entertain you, I’m afraid People’s Puppeteer is not for you.

But if you go to the show with an open mind, like both me and my partner did, you will be in for more than just a treat. I can almost guarantee that you will come out of the show with your sides aching, as he has the keen ability to make you laugh for the whole 50 or so minutes, giving you little chance to come up for air.

The Irish comedian renowned for pushing his riotous shows and infamous audience participation to the edge, with his inspired and original brand of high-energy intelligent lunacy, works the crowd like no one I’ve ever seen before.

It is no surprise that Byrne is often touted the funniest and most successful solo act in the history of the esteemed Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where he has performed for the past 14 years, and continues to be one of the Festival’s top sellers year after year.

In summary, Byrne was extremely impressed by the calibre of the audience – to the point that he jokingly suggested we all should come back for the rest of the shows as he couldn’t imagine playing to a better crowd. In fact he even went as far as saying that this should have been the gig he recorded for his DVD – because he clearly had his fill of fun.

I must admit that I was totally spent after laughing for most of the show. So if it’s absolute silliness you’re after, during this annual comedy fiesta, do yourself a favour and head down to Q. Byrne is a must-see, need I say more?

User reviews

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Ash
I have been to loads of acts over the last 6 years of the festival and I have never laughed so much. Definatley the best show I have seen and I would even go as far to say as Jason Byrne is actually the funniest Irishman in the world ever.
Keeping up with the Grid - Ingrid Grenar
Where do I even start talking about last night’s Jason Byrne stand up show People’s Puppeteer at the Q Theatre in Auckland .

It was a chaotic, rampant laughter fest which fell in to disarray and resulted in pure comedic genius and aching sides.

Entering the stage as a huge puppeteer Jason Byrne proceeded to Irish dance across the stage as the merry crowd wooped, cheered and clapped almost all the way through!

I don’t think I have ever been to a comedy show when I wasn’t sure what just happened, almost an hour and a half passed where I laughed from start to finish at various absurdities, the likes of which New Zealand was seeing for the first time.

The aptly titled show People’s Pupperteer saw the Irish comedian man handle some of his fellow Irishman and use three audience members as a human xylophone ( I won’t tell you where his struck his batons!).

He interacted and joked with his audience who became part of the show both on and off the stage. What Jason found particularly peculiar during this inaugural New Zealand performance was to be asked to share his drink with a thirsty audience member for the first time in his performing career.

He was grunted and moaned at by various nationalities and appeared truly mystified at the apparent inability of an Irishman to communicate with Kiwi after various miscommunication and what he called the ‘unnecessary’ noises that came out the people’s mouths.

The breaking point at which he may of thought we were all playing a joke on him was the when a man shouts out ‘Umbrella’ believing it to be slang for condoms.

Through all this he does manage to also tell some hilarious and raw anecdotes covering such personal topics as an ‘itchy bum’ and having sex while wearing an eye patch. He jumps and leaps about the stage often laughing and giggling at his own crazy creations.

He is an infectious force with provocative material and an innate ability to puppeteer his audience like no comedian I have ever seen.
Keeping up with the Grid - Ingrid Grenar
Where do I even start talking about last night’s Jason Byrne stand up show People’s Puppeteer at the Q Theatre in Auckland .

It was a chaotic, rampant laughter fest which fell in to disarray and resulted in pure comedic genius and aching sides.

Entering the stage as a huge puppeteer Jason Byrne proceeded to Irish dance across the stage as the merry crowd wooped, cheered and clapped almost all the way through!

I don’t think I have ever been to a comedy show when I wasn’t sure what just happened, almost an hour and a half passed where I laughed from start to finish at various absurdities, the likes of which New Zealand was seeing for the first time.

The aptly titled show People’s Pupperteer saw the Irish comedian man handle some of his fellow Irishman and use three audience members as a human xylophone ( I won’t tell you where his struck his batons!).

He interacted and joked with his audience who became part of the show both on and off the stage. What Jason found particularly peculiar during this inaugural New Zealand performance was to be asked to share his drink with a thirsty audience member for the first time in his performing career.

He was grunted and moaned at by various nationalities and appeared truly mystified at the apparent inability of an Irishman to communicate with Kiwi after various miscommunication and what he called the ‘unnecessary’ noises that came out the people’s mouths.

The breaking point at which he may of thought we were all playing a joke on him was the when a man shouts out ‘Umbrella’ believing it to be slang for condoms.

Through all this he does manage to also tell some hilarious and raw anecdotes covering such personal topics as an ‘itchy bum’ and having sex while wearing an eye patch. He jumps and leaps about the stage often laughing and giggling at his own crazy creations.

He is an infectious force with provocative material and an innate ability to puppeteer his audience like no comedian I have ever seen.
Steve
Excellent show last night. I swear he didn't get through half his show, he was interacting with the audience so much. Never stopped laughing through the whole 90 mins. Well worth going!!
Zoe
Show was soooo good, my tummy is sore from laughing so much last night. Would definitely recommend.
Keeping up with the Grid - Ingrid Grenar
Where do I even start talking about last night’s Jason Byrne stand up show People’s Puppeteer at the Q Theatre in Auckland .

It was a chaotic, rampant laughter fest which fell in to disarray and resulted in pure comedic genius and aching sides.

Entering the stage as a huge puppeteer Jason Byrne proceeded to Irish dance across the stage as the merry crowd wooped, cheered and clapped almost all the way through!

I don’t think I have ever been to a comedy show when I wasn’t sure what just happened, almost an hour and a half passed where I laughed from start to finish at various absurdities, the likes of which New Zealand was seeing for the first time.

The aptly titled show People’s Pupperteer saw the Irish comedian man handle some of his fellow Irishman and use three audience members as a human xylophone ( I won’t tell you where his struck his batons!).
He interacted and joked with his audience who became part of the show on and off the stage. What Jason found particularly peculiar during this inaugural New Zealand performance was to be asked to share his drink with a thirsty audience member for the first time in his performing career. He was grunted and moaned at by various nationalities and appeared truly mystified at the apparent inability of an Irishman to communicate with Kiwi’s after various miscommunication and what he called the ‘unnecessary’ noises that came out the people’s mouths.

The breaking point at which he may of thought we were all playing a joke on him was the when a man shouts out Umbrella believing it to be slang for condoms.

Through all this he does manage to also tell some hilarious and raw anecdotes covering such personal topics as an ‘itchy bum’ and having sex while wearing an eye patch. He jumps and leaps about the stage often laughing and giggling at his own crazy creations.

He is an infectious force with provocative material and an innate ability to puppeteer his audience like no comedian I have ever seen.