Landmark birthday gave comedian idea for a show
Ed Byrne says he's a miserable old git. He didn't celebrate his 40th birthday last year and his new show, Roaring Forties, is partly about the many things in life that annoy him. But in the flesh he's smart and funny, and as for being a party pooper... He's celebrating in Glasgow, the city where his career began 20 years ago after he studied horticulture at the University of Strathclyde, and where he plays four nights, starting tonight.
Then the Irish observational comic brings his middle-age angst to Plymouth for a night at the Pavilions on Wednesday.
His landmark birthday gave him the idea for Roaring Forties, which is his trademark mix of one-liners and extended anecdotes, and covers a range of subjects from fatherhood and friendships to vasectomies and driving awareness courses .
"It's about getting older," he says, "about being at an age where you're not really that old but no-one thinks you're trendy anymore.
"It's like a spring-clean of my life and I've come up with reasons why you can't be my friend. There are seven billion people on the planet and I only have the time to be friends with ten of them and so I have to choose carefully."
What are his rules? "It's the little things that annoy me," he says. Such as? "People who don't indicate on roundabouts, people who use the phrase, 'Touched a nerve there', or 'I'm just making conversation'..." The list runs on.
Being the married father of two young sons (with his publicist wife, Claire) has given him lots of new things to talk about on stage, but do Claire and his family, who often appear in his material, ever object?
"It's something that most comics experience," Ed replies. "People know what you do for a living and then they complain when you mention them in the act, and I've certainly had at least one girlfriend in the past who objected.
"But my wife and my family are really funny and Claire understands what goes with the job. Actually she comes off very well and people say our relationship – very sparky, very joshing – comes across."
As he is about to mark 20 years in the business, has he noticed any differences in his performances over that time? "One thing that has changed is that I now don't pretend to think something for the sake of a joke. I used to say I hated kids, for example, and it wasn't true – I've always loved kids and wanted to have them, but that wouldn't have fitted with the style of comic I was earlier in my career.
"I think being truthful makes it more chancy, but if I take an opinion and try to find a way to make it funny – even if people don't agree with me – I think it pays off because audiences know what's authentic."