Byrning down the house

24 April 2012 | 1:29 pm | Baz McAlister

Jason Byrne brings his puppetry skills to Australia.

It's odd to think of madcap comedian Jason Byrne having a quiet night in, but when Drum Media calls he's at home in Ireland with his wife, sitting on the sofa sipping tea and watching groundbreaking zombie TV show, The Walking Dead.

“That's what I do to relax,” he says. “I'd love to get my teeth into writing something like that but it's all been done – zombies, werewolves, vampires – come up with some new kind of ghoul or ghost and you're laughing, though.”

Byrne's laughing anyway, even without realising his screenwriting ambitions. He keeps selling more tickets to his shows every year, wrote a sitcom for the BBC, does a regular radio presenting gig in Dublin and last year was honoured with a Sony Radio Academy Award in London.

“I don't know media. I don't know Hello or OK magazine, or anything like that. I thought the Sony Awards was a small affair. So I turn up in London, right off the plane from Australia doing comedy festivals, and I meet my producer and she's all dolled up – 'Get in a suit, you feckin' eejit.' I thought there would just be a couple of hundred people, tops. I went down to the Grosvenor Hotel, there were all these paparazzi snapping away and I'm jetlagged to fuck. When they called out my name as the winner I had to accept this award in front of people like Ronnie Wood and Frank Skinner. What the fuck? Then I got asked to do The Graham Norton Show with Geoffrey Rush, Lady Gaga, and Gwyneth Paltrow. That was fucked up. What's happening to my life?”

In between all of this, Byrne found time to put together a new live show, People's Puppeteer. Loving the circus theme of last year's Cirque Du Byrne, he decided to keep the ringmaster-style uniform for this year's hijinks. While even Byrne himself doesn't know what's going to happen until he gets on stage, he does have his intro sorted.

“Last year, I got asked to do a charity show which was going to open with Irish dancing, you know, like Riverdance? And I had to learn how to do that for two months. So that's actually the opening to my new show I'm bringing to Australia. I thought, fuck it, I spent two months learning this and it was for charity, I'm gonna fucking use it! But as for the rest of the show – well, every time I try anything vaguely intelligent or political, my crowd are sitting there going 'Oh yes, that's very humorous.' But every time I say 'cock' or 'fanny' or talk about trying to put a Johnny on only to have it snap back up again like a blind, or my gammy eye, or ailments, or anything bad or wrong, they're fucking roaring. There's nothing I can do any more about it. Rude stuff is what makes people cry-laugh.”