Comedian Ed Byrne talks ahead of Midlands and Shropshire dates
A household name teetering on the brink of TV treasure status, award-winning comedian Ed Byrne enjoys worldwide acclaim for his stand-up.
With 25 years’ experience under his belt, Ed has parlayed his on-stage success into a variety of notable television appearances.
A regular on Mock The Week and The Graham Norton Show, Ed recently co-presented Dara and Ed’s Big Adventure and its follow-up Dara and Ed’s Road To Mandalay.
But the Irishman is still best-known and best appreciated for his stand-up performances.
His wit, charm and self-deprecatory observational humour is underpinned by a consistently hilarious vitriol and sense of injustice at a world that seems to be spinning ever more rapidly out of control.
Now he is bringing his new show, If I’m Honest, to Stafford, with further dates in Shrewsbury on October 28, Lichfield on October 29 and 30, then Telford, Shrewsbury again, and Walsall next March. It is a show with a seriously steely core. Gender politics, for example, is something Ed readily engages with – deploying his customary comedic zeal.
“I’ll admit that there are things where men get a raw deal,” he says. “We have higher suicide rates, and we tend not to do well in divorces, but representation in action movies is not something we have an issue with.”
As ever, Ed manages to provoke without being overly polemical, a balancing act that only someone of his experience can pull off.
“I like to make a point or get something off my chest, or perhaps I’m talking about something that’s been on my mind, but the majority of stuff is just to get laughs.
“People who come to see me are not political activists necessarily, they’re regular folk. If you can make a point to them, in between talking about your struggles with ageing, or discussing your hernia operation, you can toss in something that does give people pause as regards to how men should share the household chores.”
He continues: “It’s not that I feel a responsibility, I think it just feels more satisfying when you’re doing it, and it feels more satisfying when people hear it.
“When a joke makes a good point, I think people enjoy it. It’s the difference between having a steak and eating a chocolate bar.”
Ed broke through in the mid-1990s when the New Lad became a genuine cultural phenomenon.
He doesn’t want to submit to any unnecessary revisionism, but admits that if the times have changed, he has changed with them.
He reflects a little ruefully on one of his most famous jokes, about the lyrics of Alanis Morrisette’s hit song Ironic.
“There’s an attitude towards Alanis Morrisette in the opening of that routine that I’m no longer comfortable with, where I call her a moaning cow... slagging off the lyrics of the song is fine, but there’s a tone in the preamble that I wouldn’t write today.”
The new show also takes his natural tendency towards self-deprecation to unexpected extremes.
“I do genuinely annoy myself,” Ed concedes. “But the thing of your children being a reflection of you, gives you an opportunity to build something out of the best of yourself only for you to then see flashes of the worst of yourself in them. It’s a wake-up call about your own behaviour.”
Age, it seems, has not withered him. Especially now that he’s figured out how to head off ailments before they become a problem. “You see comics who are my age and older but are still retaining a level of ‘cool’ and drawing a young crowd. I can’t deny that I’m quite envious of that. But there’s also something very satisfying about your audience growing old with you.”