Jonathan Lovett chats to comedian, actor, writer and dad of two Ed Byrne, 45, who has just embarked on his biggest ever tour to date, Spoiler Alert, following a sell-out success at this year’s Edinburgh Festival
Q. What is Spoiler Alert about…or is answering that a bit of a spoiler in itself?!
“Well, I called it that partly because if there were any bad reviews people wouldn’t read them because it would say ‘Spoiler Alert’ at the top! But it’s mainly because the theme of the show is the notion of how spoilt we are in general and how we’ve become quite mollycoddled as a nation. Stuff like having to push a button to start a car rather than turn a key because it’s such a great drudgery to turn a key these days. And how it’s the trivia stuff we act really spoiled about, whereas with the big stuff, such as politics, we seem to just accept how bad things are. There was a big women’s march after Trump was elected and some people were like ‘Uhhh. What are they complaining about? We don’t live in Saudi Arabia,’ with the implication being ‘Shut up, luv. We’re not stoning you to death, what are you bothered about?!’”
Q. If you had the opportunity to say something to Donald Trump what would it be?
“If I ever did have such a marvellous opportunity I’d have to look him straight in the eye and say, ‘You really are an awful person, aren’t you?’ or maybe I would just scream ‘STOP PAINTING YOURSELF ORANGE…YOU LOOK RIDICULOUS!’”
Q. You’ve just begun an epic tour. Do you love touring this much, Ed?
“If you are really famous you can just go and play the main cities and people from little towns will come into the big cities to come and see you. Whereas if you are just ‘that bloke on Mock the Week’ you have to go to those small towns. People from Evesham can’t be bothered to go to Birmingham to see me. So I have to go to Evesham.”
Q. What was your worst gig ever done and does it still haunt you? “I’m sometimes hired to do corporate gigs and now and it can be a real struggle. On occasions there is just no laughter at all and you’re up there in front of an audience who are just there for their own thing and perhaps you’re just not the right comedian for that particular crowd. I mean, Metallica are a great band, but if I booked them to play at my in-laws’ golden wedding anniversary it might not go down particularly well. I have been on stage in the past and just wished ‘God. I wish I was a stripper’ because I would’ve got a far better response from that audience then I ever would as a comedian!”
Q. I can testify you are very funny on stage. Were you the funniest kid in your class?
“I was the classic case of having to be funny to avoid being bullied, but even at school it was bigger, louder kids that were considered funnier. My humour was a bit nerdier. So at school I would be reciting Monty Python sketches and I would be met with a kind of, ‘What the flip are you on about?’ I was probably a little more ‘niche’ as a school kid than I am now and I used to play Dungeons & Dragons even as a teenager. My cousin and I were proper little geeks and I would go into school with a spring in my stride on a Monday morning having got my wizard to Level 14 the night before.”
Q. We’ve just seen you and best mate Dara O Briain on TV in Dara & Ed’s Road to Mandalay, a follow-up to Dara & Ed’s Great Big Adventure in which you travelled the Pan-American Highway. Where next for the intrepid duo?
“Well, if they do ask us to do another one, we are both quite keen on travelling through the Nordic countries. I think there will be a lot of mileage in that. We have a tendency to think of everyone up there as Swedish but it would be really interesting to get under the skin of these places and go, ‘Swedes are like this, and Danes like this, and the Finnish do this etc’… And, if we could get Abba to reunite, that would be good. I was talking to this guy in New Zealand who reckons he saw them all living and working together in this house in New Zealand and I was like ‘Really?!’”
Q. What’s the best thing or worst thing about Dara?
“I tell you what the most interesting thing is about Dara… he doesn’t know about spoons! If you showed him a spoon and said, ‘Now, is that a soup spoon or a dessert spoon?’ he’d be like, ‘It’s a bloody spoon!’ He knows big spoons and small spoons but in-between he doesn’t know anything about them! He only knows ‘spoon’ or ‘not spoon’.”