Muddy meets comedian Ed Byrne
Why he gave up horticulture for comedy, plus his best warm-up joke... Funny man Ed chats to Muddy ahead of hitting the stage in High Wycombe and Milton Keynes...
The Irish comedian’s a regular on Mock The Week, you may also have caught him on Celebrity Best Home Cook, co-presenting Dara & Ed’s Big Adventure or BBC2’s The Pilgrimage, but what we love him for most is his award-winning stand-up comedy.
Now the dad-of-two is touring the country with his show If I’m Honest, so we caught up with Ed to chew the fat about family life, lockdowns and laughing at fashion faux pa’s ahead of his Buckinghamshire stint.
So Ed, what’s the show all about?
It’s about the things you say to your kids, which they say back to you. There’s something about having your own words repeated back that makes you start thinking about the traits you want to pass on to your kids and reflecting on that – so really, the show’s all about me!
Sometimes I ask my kids (Cosmo and Magnus) a question and they just don’t listen, I can be asking three or four times and in the end I end up getting annoyed. I heard my son Cosmo repeating my words back to his mate, who also wasn’t listening, but he sounded a d**k! I had to take him aside and say, “You can’t say that, you sound like a d**k.’ He said, “but you say it dad, so are you a d**k?” And I said “No, no I’m not”…
Are your kids repeating swear words too?
We’re not at the stage where they’re swearing because they’re angry, they’re not dropping something and swearing, but they do find swearing funny. Sometimes we allow a little bit of swearing in a controlled environment, but they do know that it’s naughty to say shit *laughter*.
It must be great to be doing live shows again?
It is great, particularly as the show actually premiered in 2019! I played Sept to Dec and was due to carry on the tour throughout 2020 when Covid struck, suddenly there was nothing. Some theatres that were sold out are now struggling as marketing people were furloughed and box offices shut, it’s been a tough time for live venues.
How was life during lockdown?
My wife and I divided and conquered. Normally we both do a bit of the cooking etc, but during lockdowns the garden became my domain and the kitchen hers. It was good to all be together as a family, but actually I found it a bit frustrating that we couldn’t use that time to do all the things we wanted. I know it’s a cliche, but 9 years old is the perfect age (they’re old enough to be great company but young enough to still think you can fly), so it would have been great to go off and have some adventures like climb mountains or do some kayaking, rather than just be stuck at home, though I know we were luckier than many.
How did you get into comedy Ed?
People used to tell me I was funny at uni in Glasgow, but I assumed it would be really hard to actually do that for a living, I probably thought I could try and be a TV presenter or radio host or something. I was on the entertainment committee and Vice President of the Union and had to entertain freshers, which went well, so other unis got in touch asking me to do their freshers’ welcome too. I was studying horticulture, but decided to bite the bullet and do stand-up, using the contacts I’d made to set up a comedy club at a pub in Glasgow before moving down to London, where the streets were of course paved with gold.
What was your big break?
I didn’t really have one! I started out in the 90s which was a great time to be doing stand-up, you could make a decent living without being famous – there were about 100 comedy clubs within the M25, so you could do three gigs a night. It took a few years to establish myself but I never really had that one moment that catapulted me to fame. My first TV appearance was on the Jonathan Ross Big Big Talent Show, but all that really did was help sell out my Edinburgh Fringe show.
You’re good friends with comedian Dara Ó Briain, what’s he like to hang out with?
We lose it over things that other people wouldn’t necessarily find funny. The most we’ve probably ever laughed was at the Kilkenny Comedy Festival in the 90s. I was wearing what I thought were extremely fashionable baggy jeans, which comedian Barry Murphy was ridiculing. To demonstrate how on-trend I was I started singing Here Comes The Hot Stepper by Ini Kamoze until Dara pointed out that the song was in fact about eight years old….we lost it. Yes, there were people wondering why that was so funny.
Tell us a joke…
Some of the warm-up people’s jokes always make me laugh, like: “I went to the Canary Islands, but there weren’t any canaries. Going to the Virgin Islands next year, can’t wait.” *giggles*
Anything you’d like to add for Muddy readers?
This show is ideal to get back out there and support your local theatre, it’s not esoteric or worthy, it’s light-hearted and funny and no, I don’t dwell on the pandemic – there are a couple of minutes on it, but other than that we’ll just have a laugh (sounds good to us, Ed).