Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Ed Byrne

Ed Byrne has been making us laugh for 20 years. Kate Gould speaks to the Irish comic about his new show Roaring Forties

HERNIAS, vasectomies and having young children. At first glance, not perhaps what you might think of as comic fare but for Irish comedian Ed Byrne they have provided him with plenty of material for his current stand up show Roaring Forties.
The 41-year-old is currently taking the show on tour across the country which includes two dates in South London - Fairfield Halls in Croydon on Wednesday, February 26 and Broadway Theatre in Catford on Friday, February 28.
It is, he says, a chance for him to look at some of the things life has thrown at him over the last few years as he has approached, and now hit, the big 4 0 and have a rant about it, in a humorous way of course.
Although best known perhaps for his regular appearances on TV shows such as Mock The Week and Live At The Apollo, it is also an opportunity for Ed's legions of fans - he boasts 301,000 on Twitter alone - to see him at his comedic best, as a stand up.
"I try and do a tour every couple of years or so but this one is a bit different as I had that big unmentionable birthday and I decided to take stock of my life," he explains as we chat ahead of his London gigs.
"It's a little catch up thing, a mix of one-liners and anecdotes. I'm a dad now, with two kids, and so there are plenty of things to draw on.
"A lot of them are quite medical, vasectomies and driving awareness courses not to mention recovering from a hernia - the usual kind of thing," he adds deadpan.
"I was thinking to myself while they were happening I hope there's some material in this!"
But hang on, vasectomies, driving courses and a hernia? Sounds serious.
"Ah," he says quickly. "I got the hernia from moving a compost bin. It wasn't a kitchen caddy but a big garden rotating drum version.
"I was moving it but it was too heavy and I felt something give. It was really really painful," he remembers ruefully.
"I mentioned it when I did a show in Barrow recently and there was one chap in the audience who said he'd had a hernia and was still suffering two years later! I took it as a personal insult he still had it and that it didn't bother him!" he jokes cheerfully.
As well as all the medical trials and tribulations plenty of other subjects will be covered including being 40, his kids and why Ed will be trimming down his list of friends.
"It's like a spring-clean of my life,” he says. "There are seven billion people on the planet. I'm married with two children and I don't have time to be friends with everyone.
"I now have strict rules about who I will be friends with and I have to choose carefully," he chuckles.
And he already has a long list of grievances and misdemeanours that will get you expelled from his Christmas card list.
"It's the little things that annoy me - people who don't indicate at roundabouts, people who use the phrase, 'touched a nerve there', or 'I'm just making conversation', people who don't introduce themselves... The list is endless," he laughs.
Despite these grumpy old man tendencies, he's extremely likeable and funny and has me chortling away throughout our conversation.
In fact far from coming across as angry, he is chipper and full of beans as he talks 10 to the dozen about the variety of subjects that get his goat, but that he can see the funny side of.
"Obviously, I also talk about turning 40 last year. I didn't want it to dominate the act but I do feel it's a half way point in my life.
"It's definitely more fun to be daft in your 40s than in your teens and 20s though. When you are 40 and acting daft people are befuddled by it - you can get away with things more easily which is obviously very pleasing," he jokes.
And given he's only just past the landmark birthday it's hard to believe Ed's been making us laugh for 20 years.
"Yeah, it's quite an achievement and I never thought I'd be doing this for so long," he admits. "But I quite like the fact I've got that level of experience in my career.
"I think it's different for the youngsters starting out now though. When I started out there were a lot more of the smaller comedy clubs which are great training grounds. Now there are less of them which is a real shame.
"A lot of comedians do arenas these days. I am not famous enough for that but I do see the appeal - not just for the money you make, but the experience of playing such a large crowd.
"That said, I do like to be able to see people so I'm pleased to be doing gigs in venues like Fairfield Halls and Broadway Theatre.
"They are a nice size and you can get a decent amount of people in without it being overwhelming. And you always get nice audiences."

Ed Byrne's Roaring Forties is at Fairfield Halls in Croydon on Wednesday February 26 and at the Broadway Theatre Catford on Friday February 28.

Visit www.edbyrne.com for tickets.

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