Ed Byrne tours his most personal show yet

Mock the Week television star Ed Byrne is an established touring favourite, and despite his youthful looks the Irishman has marked up 20 years as a comic.

His latest show of observational comedy is touring to Buxton Opera House on April 14, and is set to cover topics from gastric illness to the success of UKIP.

He also talks a lot about his family and it’s his most personal tour to date. At one point he reveals to the audience a picture of his son – following a bittersweet story about buying new shoes – which not only illustrates it perfectly, but produces an “Aaaah” moment.

“I’m aware that my kids haven’t given me permission to talk about them and that there will come a point when I can’t,” Ed says.

But while there is a lot of personal reflection in his new show, Ed also ponders on matters political - the story about his son sparks a passionate section about how we label young children, for instance, and he also talks about feminism and transgenderism.

I ask Ed if dipping a toe into the transgender debate (for which some have been vilified on social media) isn’t a little risky. He said: “It has become such a big subject because of Caitlyn Jenner (the former athlete Bruce Jenner, who transitioned earlier this year)and some Twitter trolls were refusing to acknowledge her as anything but Bruce. I thought it was interesting that it still divides people. I call it the thorniest issue since Jesus was fitted for a hat.”

The feminist slant to the new show was sparked by Ed’s reflections on his early days in comedy and, strikingly, he admits to being a little uncomfortable about some of his more laddish material back then.

“My comedy reflected my life at that time – single and enjoying myself – and most of it was fairly harmless ‘the difference between men and women’ kind of thing. But some of the stuff about an ex-girlfriend I can see was a bit angry and I wouldn’t do it now.”

He says he is more aware of how men and women interact in the modern world and is sometimes surprised by the difference in his reactions to things as a man in his forties to when he was twenty-something. “I started watching Californication (the US dark comedy starring David Duchovny as a sex addict) but I found it insulting because I’m expected to empathise with him. His character behaves so unconscionably that I couldn’t watch the second series.

“I don’t know how much of that is simply getting older, or that times have changed, or mixing with a broader group of people. Interestingly I find Twitter can expand your horizons; I’ve started following all sorts of people on it and it’s good to get a different take on things.”

Ed Byrne will appear at Buxton Opera House with his show Outside Looking In on Thursday, April 14, at 8pm. Tickets are priced at £21.50. To buy tickets call the box office on 01298 72190 or visit www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk