MOCK the Week star Ed Byrne is an established touring favourite, and despite his youthful looks the Irishman recently marked up 20 years as a comic, writes Veronica Lee.
His latest show of observational comedy, Outside, Looking In, covers a wide range of subjects – from a recent gastric illness to the success of UKIP – but he talks a lot about his family and it’s his most personal yet.
“I didn’t make a conscious effort to write a more personal show, but that was what was coming out when I started writing it,” Ed says.
“People come to see me for a laugh and I would like to think they go away thinking the show is quite heartwarming.
“A lot of comics may talk about the same stuff, but what makes it mine is that what I’m saying is what I genuinely think on this subject, and I try to make it as funny as I can. I think we all mine our lives to some degree or other.”
There is a lot of personal reflection in his new show and Ed also ponders on political matters, while the feminist slant to the new show was sparked by his reflections on his early days in comedy.
And strikingly, he admits to being a little uncomfortable about some of his more laddish material back then.
“My comedy reflected my life at that time – single and enjoying myself – and most of it was fairly harmless ‘the difference between men and women’ kind of thing.
“But some of the stuff about an ex-girlfriend I can see was a bit angry and I wouldn’t do it now.
“I started watching Californication (the US dark comedy starring David Duchovny as a sex addict) but I found it insulting because I’m expected to empathise with him. His character behaves so unconscionably that I couldn’t watch the second series.
“I don’t how much of that is simply getting older, or that times have changed, or mixing with a broader group of people. Interestingly I find Twitter can expand your horizons; I’ve started following all sorts of people on it and it’s good to get a different take on things.”
In his spare time away from the stage and TV, Ed is a hill walker and when in Scotland he ‘bags’ Munros (peaks above 3,000ft, he’s at 75) and the completist, slightly geeky side side of him, admits that elsewhere in the British Isles he also collects ‘county tops’ – the highest point in the county.
“I’ve downloaded an app for them,” he says with a laugh, “and have started making a list of those I’ve done.”
He’s currently writing a sitcom set in an outdoors shop, but does he plans to introduce his sons to the pleasures of outdoors?
“My wife, Claire, and I already have. So far they love it, camping and canoeing, that sort of thing.
“As they’re growing it’s hard to be apart from them when I’m on tour, and I try not to be away for more than a couple of days at a time, but one of the great things about my job is that it means I can spend a lot of time with them when I’m home.”
So after two decades of touring, does Ed still enjoy stand-up comedy?
He added: “Apart from the travel involved, which no comic likes, I love it, because you have people responding to something that you have written alone in your office, and the work comes alive in a room of people.
“I like the television things I do, but nothing can beat a live comedy audience.”
Ed brings his Outside, Looking In tour to Coventry later this month when he performs at the Warwick Arts Centre on Tuesday February 16. For tickets call 024 7652 4524.