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2:02pm Friday 25th October 2013 in Local news
By his own admission, Ed Byrne has been morose and miserable since he was 23.
Now he’s in his forties, and he couldn’t be happier about it. The Dublin-born comic is embracing middle-age with open arms.
“I’ve always been a miserable git, but now I’m old enough to be one I’ve cheered right up!” he laughs.
As we chat on the phone he tells me he’s wearing clothes from a Swedish line of outdoor clothing he’s discovered. “I do a lot of hillwalking, which is middle-aged in itself, and I’ve started wearing outdoor clothes all the time now. I just don’t care any more,” he says. “I’ve given in to it and started buying more stylish outdoor wear. It’s comfort over style – but with an element of style.”
It doesn’t end there. He’s started playing air guitar, he has National Trust membership, he watches box sets and he’s had a hernia.
Ed celebrates reaching his middle years in Roaring Forties, coming to Bradford next week, which covers everything from fatherhood to vasectomies and driving awareness courses.
Did having a hernia make him more aware of his age?
“Yes, it’s a very middle-aged thing. I talk about it in the show and ask the audience for their experiences of hernias.
“So far they’ve included getting one playing rugby to ‘moving a pile of magazines with my foot’. Mine came moving a compost bin.
“I’ve actually got a DVD of having my hernia removed, which I can’t bring myself to watch.”
It was while at university studying horticulture that Ed cut his teeth as a stand-up comic. After 20 years in the business, he says his style and content has changed since he was the skinny lad making observations about girls, drinking and other twentysomething preoccupations.
“Now I don’t pretend to think something for the sake of a joke. There’s always comic exaggeration, but I don’t say things I don’t genuinely think. I’m more true to my life now,” he says “I used to say I hated kids and it wasn't true – I’ve always wanted to have them but that wouldn't have fitted with the style of comic I was earlier in my career.
“I’m more anecdotal now, rather than observational.
By the time you reach your forties you should have enough anecdotes to go on. I store things up; like the driving awareness course I did. To anyone else that would’ve been a pain but for me it was material.”
Now 41, Ed is married with two young sons, and draws on them for inspiration. “My wife and family are funny and Claire understands that goes with the job,” he says.
A regular on TV panel shows such as Mock The Week, Have I Got News For You and QI, Ed is one of the country’s best-known comics. “Panel shows are a more efficient delivery system for comedy than they used to be,” he says. “It all helps to keeps up the profile, but stand-up is where I feel most confident. I love that time on stage.”
However happily Ed slides into middle age, he isn’t ready for the pipe and slippers just yet. His trademark rants are fuelled by an intolerance that comes with age.
“I’m in the middle of my life now and I’m not going to spend the rest of it with people I don’t really like. There are seven billion people on the planet and I only have the time to be friends with 10 of them,” he says.
“If you don’t indicate on roundabouts, or you say things like ‘I’ve touched a nerve’, you’re not going to be my friend.”
- Ed Byrne is at St George’s Hall tomorrow. For tickets, ring (01274) 432000.