Comedian Ed Byrne talks to the Journal ahead of his show in Grantham

Ed Byrne, appearing in Grantham on Saturday, March 1
Ed Byrne, appearing in Grantham on Saturday, March 1

Comedian Ed Byrne has come of age, in more ways than one.

He is into his forties now - he was born in 1972 - and has built his latest hilarious stand-up show around his descent into middle age.

The tour, called The Roaring Forties, is making its way around the country, playing to big audiences and considerable critical acclaim.

The tour stops off in Grantham a week tomorrow, bringing Irish-born Ed to the town for the first time.

But there’s something about the man and his act that will be familiar to all who see him at the Meres venue.

And we’re not just talking about the face from TV shows such as Mock The Week, Live at The Apollo. The Graham Norton Show and Have I Got News For You.

Byrne’s brilliant comedy springs out of everyday events which take on a startlingly entertaining twist when subjected to his incisive gaze.

It means an instant recognition of shared experience between the audience and the curmudgeonly and nerdy persona clutivated by Ed during his 20 years in comedy.

The comedian, whose stand-up career began during his college years at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, said: “The great thing about my job, if you want to call it that, is that a lot of life that would just be a drag for most people I look at as something I can draw on for material.

“It makes life much more interesting. One of my oldest routines is about getting my luggage lost. It’s about five minutes long and is accessible to the audience and a lot of people identify with it, so it works.

“Now when I lose my luggage I can be philosophical about it and just say to myself, at least I got a good routine out of it.”

The comedian brings his comic observational skills to bear on familiar but diverse situations in his Roaring Forties show, including a hernia operation, a driving awareness course and having a second child.

He says: “It’s all about embracing middle age. It’s more enjoyable if you want to be an idiot in your forties, you can revel in it.

“It’s nice that part of my audience is growing up with me.

“I met a couple who first saw me when they had just got married, which I talked about in that show. The next time they had had their first child and the next they had had their second. And he had had a hernia.

“I am constantly thinking of new jokes. Really my tours are just a precis of what I’ve been doing for the past couple of years.

“I file away ideas in my mind and let them develop. It’s a bit like a compost heap. You stick the idea on the top and it sits there for a long time, then eventually comes out as somethuing useful. You can’t rush it.”

The Roaring Forties is loosley based on Byrne reaching a particular age. And it sees Byrne maturing as a performer, confident in his comic writing ability.

A bit like a fine wine. Or perhaps a richly fertile corner of the garden.

** Ed Byrne appears at the Meres Centre, Grantham, at 8pm on Saturday, March 1. Tickets are £22.50 from the booking office, at the Guildhall arts centre, on St Peter’s Hill. Tel: 01476 406158.