Arts

Spoiler Alert: Ed Byrne's coming to Belfast – and he's got a new chainsaw

Acclaimed comedian Ed Byrne is hitting the road again with his new show, Spoiler Alert. Ahead of his Belfast date, The Dublin-born stand-up told us how success and fatherhood have only changed him a little bit

Increasingly middle-class comedian Ed Byrne is the proud owner of two chainsaws

AS HE prepares to launch himself upon us with his new touring show Spolier Alert, comedian Ed Byrne is firmly of the belief that the current breed of parents spoil their kids rotten – whether it’s to do with the ever-increasing size of garden trampolines, or his own kids’ demand for elderflower cordial.

"My dad wasn’t a bad dad, he was just a 1970s dad," explains the Swords-born stand-up, who plays the Cool FM Comedy Club at Belfast's Waterfront Hall on February Saturday 10.

"I could never see my children ever again from this moment on, and I’ve already done more parenting then he did in my entire life.

"But, of course, I made a conscious decision that I was going to be an awesome dad. My wife will come back with tales from her friends of how awful their husbands are and she’ll see me smiling and say 'alright, stop congratulating yourself just because such and such can't be left alone with their children for two minutes’."

In his new touring show, Spoiler Alert, Ed compares and contrasts the old-school child-rearing days with 21st century methods and suggests that there are different ways to learn how to be a mum or dad.

"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 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 you don’t, really, it’s more that you look around you to see what’s going on with other parents."

For the show Ed extends his analysis on the culture of entitlement to look at areas where we could perhaps do with being spoiled a little bit more.

"Where I think we’re not acting spoiled enough is in the political arena. We have a tendency to accept what’s happening and that’s where we should be acting more entitled: we are literally entitled to the government we want. We’re spoiled in all these little ways, but not spoiled enough."

As well as stories about his two young sons, Ed weaves in routines about running out of petrol in the most awkward place imaginable, helping rescue an injured man in the Cairngorms, and the nation-dividing campaign and result of the EU referendum.

His way of tackling Brexit is to draw an analogy with the time his son was determined to touch an electric fence with his dad trying to warn him of the dangers.

"I was telling the story of the electric fence for a while, and then suddenly it struck me that it was Brexit in microcosm. I don’t want to alienate half of the population or maybe a third of my audience, but it works as an analogy whichever side you’re on.

"The government told you not to do this and that it would be a terrible idea, but you said ‘no, we want to do it anyway’. So now we’re doing it and it’s proving a terrible idea. I do think it’s a fair analogy, but no doubt for some it will come across as me being a typical liberal elite Remoaner."

Spoiler Alert also continues a theme that he’s tackled in previous shows, that of his gradual shift from being a working-class Dubliner to a fully paid-up rural-residing member of the middle classes.

Having been an acclaimed stand-up for 20 years now, Byrne's success with shows like The Roaring Forties, Different Class and the 1998 Perrier-nominated A Night At The Opera led to regular TV work including Mock The Week, Father Ted, The One Show and All Star Mr & Mrs.

The Swords-born comic's love of hillwalking landed him a regular column for The Great Outdoors magazine and his passion for natural history has resulted in further TV appearances on The One Show (abseiling in Snowdonia), Countryfile (climbing Sgùrr Dearg, the 'inaccessible pinnacle' on Skye) and presenting items on the BBC's Volcano Live.

He also teamed up with fellow funnyman Dara O'Briai to co-helm the highly acclaimed comedy travelogue Dara & Ed’s Big Adventure and its sequel Dara & Ed’s Road To Mandalay.

Perhaps as a direct result of such success, where once Byrne would do routines slating 4x4 owners, he is now the proud(ish) owner of such a vehicle.

And, on the poster for his tour, he brandishes other signifiers of social mobility such as a bowtie and chainsaw.

"It’s one of two I own: that one is the smaller of the two,” Ed remarks, referring to his chainsaw rather than neckwear selections.

"I use it for firewood, both for my wood-burning stove and also for the barbecue. The first time I used one I was fine, though I think it worried my parents that I had bought a chainsaw."

Having premiered Spoiler Alert at the Edinburgh Fringe before further honing the show during the summer, Byrne has begun his latest tour this very week with a run of English dates which will continue all the way into 2018.

"Being on stage is enjoyable – the empty page though is a scary thing," he says of Spoiler Alert's development process.

"On the first leg of the tour l'll do about an hour and 15 minutes, plus I’ll have a support act.

"I keep a tour diary now of places where the curries are disappointing and where they are good and where audiences have been good before."

Hopefully, Belfast will tick both essential boxes next February.

:: Ed Byrne, February 10, The Waterfront Hall, Belfast. Tickets on sale via Waterfront.co.uk

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