Review: Jason Byrne no-show doesn’t stop the laughs at Live At The Civic

Review: ‘Live At The Civic’ at Brierley Hill Civic Hall (Friday, May 18)

IT must be nerve-racking to stand on a stage and tell jokes, but to have to explain to the audience that the star attraction would not be turning up must have been on another level, writes Dan Sharp.

I couldn’t imagine what MC Wayne Beese was going through just half an hour before the show was about to begin when he found out his headline act was stuck at Dublin Airport with no chance of making it to the gig.

Despite the setback of a Jason Byrne no-show, Beese handled the night expertly, bringing in a last minute replacement in Sean Percival who took the civic hall roof off.

After overcoming the audience’s initial groans, Beese welcomed magician Pete Firman onto the stage as the first act of the evening.

Magicians are like Marmite to a comedy audience, but Firman is one of the country’s best and by the end of his act I’m sure he had even the biggest of naysayers in stitches.

If you thought his sleight of hand was good – how did the handkerchief pass through the mic stand? – his comic timing and crowd work is as good as any stand-up on the circuit, and he deservedly walked off to rapturous applause.

The middle man was Aussie fireball Brendon Burns, who hobbled his way onto the stage and sat on a stool throughout his set due to a leg injury.

And if you thought magicians could split an audience then Burns takes a knife to it and doesn’t care one jot if you don’t like him.

Fortunately for me, I was on the one half that loved him – my wife on the other hand had a different opinion!

No one is safe in Burns’ comedy. He’ll rip it out of anyone. David Walliams, Princess Diana and even the night’s own MC Beese took both hysterical barrels on this occasion, after he kicked off with an expletive filled rant about Byrne’s inability to show up.

Before Percival came out on stage, Beese once again apologised to the crowd for Byrne’s absence, but he needn’t bothered as his replacement had a barnstormer.

The Old Hill comic quickly had the audience in tears as he joked about his hometown – and basically every other area within Dudley and Sandwell – as being s***.

I always feel Live At The Civic benefits from having Black Country talent on the bill who can really connect with the crowd using side-splittingly funny local references.

And Percival was just what the gig needed to send everyone – well almost everyone – home with smiles on their faces.

The next Live At The Civic, on Saturday, June 16, will see ‘I’m A Celeb’ favourite Joel Dommett headline, with support from Rob Deering, Troy Hawke and Beese.

Tickets are now on sale at www.bhillcivic.co.uk/whats-on/comedy.

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