Ed Byrne: 'It worried my parents that I had bought a chainsaw'

Ed Byrne: 'He came over and did it in his pyjamas'

Irish comedian takes his latest show across the UK and muses over different approaches to parenting across the generations

Dubbed by fellow Irish comic Andrew Maxwell as 'an annoying super-logical stick monster', Ed Byrne has been in the comedy game across three decades now. Nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award when it was still known as The Perrier, he's also done a bit of panto, some ads and been on All Star Mr And Mrs. Here, he talks about how he learned to be a modern parent, his sons' names and chainsaws …

In your main publicity picture for this tour, you're wielding a rather impressive chainsaw. That's totally photoshopped, right?

No, it's one of two I own. I use it for firewood, both for my wood-burning stove and for the barbecue. I think it worried my parents that I had bought a chainsaw. In a previous show, I tell a story about how I had bought an angle grinder to get rid of an old tank that was in the garden. I phoned my dad to ask for advice but also to let him know that I was doing this, thinking that he'd be so proud. But he said, 'yeah, I'd rather you didn't do it. I'll come over and do it this weekend.' And he came over and did it in his pyjamas. He did a very good job, but I'm sure I would have done, too.

Given that it borrows a very modern phrase to talk about a contemporary phenomenon (how children are overly pampered these days), Spoiler Alert is a clever title, isn't it?

It's that thing of when you have to come up with a title before the show has really been written and then you think, 'will I make it about this or not, and will this be the theme?' When you have a number of jokes about a certain thing you have to gamble on whether that's going be the theme. It certainly worked well with Different Class and Roaring Forties. Where I think we're not acting spoiled enough is in the political arena. We have a tendency to accept what's happening but we should act more entitled: we are literally entitled to the government we want. Women shouldn't be condemned for marching against Trump. We're spoiled in all these little ways, but not spoiled enough.

Do you compare your kids' relatively idyllic rural English childhood with your own possibly less charmed one in working-class Dublin?

I grew up in what I would call an aspirational household in that my parents bettered themselves over the course of my childhood. My mother was a radiographer, and she ended up a lecturer in radiography while my dad was a sheet metal worker and went up to a supervisory role. I'd still say that you are expected to do a lot more parenting than our parents did and that's a weird thing because you tend to think that your parents are where you learned parenting from. But it's more that you look around to see what's going on with other parents. We were always out of our parents' sight at the age of four or five and just playing in the road. It isn't like that anymore.

Your kids are called Magnus and Cosmo: are those names significant in any way?

There's no significance with the names, I just thought it would be pretty cool going on stage in Reykjavik and saying I had a son called Magnus. That's a cheap round of applause.

Ed Byrne: Spoiler Alert is on tour until Sat 2 Jun.

Ed Byrne: Spoiler Alert

  • 2 stars

Stand-up comedy from the Mock The Week regular.

National Maritime Museum, London SE10

Sat 15 Sep

£11–£27.50 / 020 8858 4422

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