Ed Byrne’s favourite places in Oxon, Bucks & Beyond
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Ed Byrne is one of the most successful comedians performing in the UK, regularly appearing on TV and touring to sold-out theatres. Originally from Ireland, he now lives in Essex with his wife and two children, but comes to Oxford’s New Theatre on 1 Oct with his new show Roaring Forties, moving to The Swan in High Wycombe on 19 Oct and Aylesbury on 27 Nov. These are his favourite places.
There seem to be loads of farm shops around these counties because it’s so full of people who move here to set up farm shops! I have to say, the Lime Farm Sharp has an award-winning Victoria sponge. If that’s not enough to recommend a place I don’t know what it is. I can vouch for the onion chilli relish too. My wife and I know some people who live nearby, so we brought out kids here because they can pet the animals and stuff like that. We have two boys, and the oldest was barely walking at the time but he was still quite excited by the sheep.
It’s always a good feeling playing at the Swan because you graduate to it from smaller venues. I’d started with a spot at the comedy club in the Town Hall, then played the Town Hall on my own, and then made it to the Swan as I became more successful. Prior to that though, I remember doing a gig at the Town Hall Theatre where I first did my Alanis Morrisette gag about how unironic her lyrics were from her song Ironic. There’s the line about ‘It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife’. At this point one woman in the crowd had had enough of me making fun of the song and she heckled me, shouting ‘It’s a metaphor!’ I was very happy to explain was in fact… a simile. That became part of my routine, the humour of finally finding a use for that random fact from school.
I went here with Brendon Burns, the Australian stand up, and his wife. This place has a Michelin star and the food’s great but it’s not up its own arse. Most Michelin paces tend to be up themselves a bit but The Nut Tree is very relaxed, and has the atmosphere of a pub that just happens to have really good food. I tend to eat out more these days – it’s partly the natural ageing process, and partly the sophisticating influence of my wife. I used to drink through the hunger – ‘eatin’s cheatin’!’ – but I have realized the importance of sustenance.
I’m trying to work my way around the highest points in the country – most of them have been in Scotland and Wales so far, but I’ve also been to Haddington Hill in the Chilterns, the highest point in Buckinghamshire. There’s an easy 5 mile walk from Haddington Hill to Pavis Wood in Hertfordshire, which happens to be the highest point in Herts and it’s a really lovely walk. I enjoy walking, we take the kids on our backs and off we go. It gives you a good excuse to get out into far flung areas of the country.
This was the first place where I did an hour of standup and I still remember it vividly. I was booked to do 40 minutes but I ran long. I was so pleased with the audience – they were so nice – that I told them that I’d made it to an hour and it meant I was ready for Edinburgh and I was given an encore! Comedy can be adversarial, you versus the audience, so it’s nice when there’s a nurturing atmosphere and you can try new stuff.