Ed Byrne is one of the rare breed of comedians who manages to provoke without being overly polemical – a tricky balancing act.
A household name, the observational comedian has been a regular on pretty much every UK TV show going – including Mock The Week, Top Gear, Have I Got News For You, The Graham Norton Show, Live At The Apollo and, most recently, QI and The Pilgrimage.
He is currently entertaining Scottish audiences as part of his international tour If I’m Honest, taking his self-deprecating humour and sense of injustice to Aberdeen this Saturday and Inverness on Sunday.
Funnyman Ed Byrne says he genuinely annoys himself
Ed’s show digs deep into a father’s sense of responsibility, what it means to be a man in today’s world, and whether he possesses any qualities whatsoever worth passing on to his two sons.
“I do genuinely annoy myself,” Ed says. “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. I don’t think I’m being massively hard on myself.
“The fact is when you’re the bloke who is standing on the stage with the microphone, commanding an audience’s attention, you’re in a very elevated position anyway.”
Gender politics and the concept of power imbalance is something Ed readily engages with – deploying his customary comedic zeal.
And he has, in the past, spoken about controversial political topics and conspiracy theories.
“I’ll admit that there are things where men get a raw deal,” he concedes. “We have higher suicide rates and we tend not to do well in divorces.
“The problem with men’s rights activists is that it’s not about speaking up for men’s rights, it’s about hating women.
“I did stuff about Trump and the Pizzagate right wing conspiracy,” he adds. “A couple of the reviewers said: ‘Oh, I would have liked to have watched a whole show of this.’
Quips on the mundane reality and frustrations of middle age
“And I think: ‘Well you might have, but the average person who comes to see me would not like to see that.’
“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 aging, or discussing your hernia operation or whatever it is, you can toss in something that does give people pause as regards to how men should share the household chores.”
In between his more serious points, If I’m Honest also includes numerous quips about the mundane realities and the frustrations of middle age.
However, age, it seems, has not withered Ed – especially now that he’s figured out how to head off ailments before they become a problem.
He insists that, while the show might have occasionally morbid aspects, it’s also not without its quietly triumphant moments.
“I thought I was being quite upbeat, talking about the small victories,” he adds. “You know, finding positivity in being able to spot when a cramp was about to happen in your leg and dealing with it before it does.
“I was very happy with myself about that.
How to get tickets to see Ed Byrne at the Music Hall and Eden Court
“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.”
Since the pandemic hit, and live comedy as we knew it temporarily ceased to be, Ed has done a few socially-distanced gigs as well as some virtual ones, but he cannot wait to get back on the road properly.
“I’ll have to see what still works and what doesn’t,” he says. “I’ve missed doing stand-up the most during this lockdown.
“No one told me: ‘You’re not going to be touring for 18 months,’ or I would have planned it better.”
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