Ed Byrne - Cry freedom

This article is from 2008.


Amnesty International supporter Ed Byrne may not be sure where he fits in any more but, as he tells Doug Johnstone, this keeps him in material

Who’d go out with an observational stand-up? Every secret of your relationship would be exposed to ridicule for paying punters. That hasn’t stopped Ed Byrne managing to tie the knot, but it was purely for research purposes, you understand. ‘Previously I’d go out with somebody, and when there was nothing else to write about we’d break up,’ he laughs. ‘It was clear this relationship wasn’t going to break up, so I thought we should get married so I could pick up some new material about the run up to the big day. I guess having kids will need to be the next stressful thing to give me material.’

The long-haired Irish stand-up’s new show, Different Class, plays heavily on wedding plan mayhem, but as the title suggests there’s also a fair amount of angst about his place in society. ‘I’ve become quite middle class because of my success at the job,’ he says. ‘But I don’t feel comfortable mixing with middle class types, and I’ve never felt comfortable with working class types either, they don’t trust me. I just don’t fit in.’

The secret of Byrne’s success is his blend of affable Irish charm with a more acerbic streak. Despite the odd vitriolic rant, his is all-inclusive comedy, a welcoming romp through the infuriating side of life. As well as his own show, Byrne is taking part in one of Amnesty International’s two star-studded Stand-Up for Freedom nights alongside the likes of Rich Hall and Lucy Porter, in an event supported by The List. Byrne has made a point of doing the Amnesty gigs every year at Edinburgh.

‘My interest in Amnesty started to grow in 1998 when the campaign focused on two Burmese comedians, U Lu Zaw and U Pa Pa Lay, who were in jail for doing anti-establishment satire. That opened a lot of comics’ eyes to the freedoms we take for granted being denied elsewhere.’

Having honed his craft over 15 years, Byrne is now a comedian for all occasions, and this season he’s playing the festivals ciircuit. ‘Over the years I’ve built up material that covers the age spectrum,’ he says. ‘At Edinburgh, I’ve definitely found my audience. I’m getting older and my audience is growing up with me.’

Ed Byrne, Assembly Hall, 623 3030, 2–25 Aug (not 5, 12), 10.20pm, £14–£17 (£13–£16). Previews 31 Jul & 1 Aug, £5; Stand-Up for Freedom, Assembly Hall, 623 3030, 6, 13 Aug, midnight, £14.50 (£12.50).

Ed Byrne

  • 4 stars

He's using his recent upgrade to marriage for material, apparently. Always a hit.

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