I started stand-up because I didn’t want to work, now I’m exhausted says comic Jason Byrne ahead of East Anglia gigs
PUBLISHED: 20:05 08 November 2017 | UPDATED: 20:05 08 November 2017
One of the fastest thinking comics around, Jason Byrne is revealing the method behind his madness with new show The Man With Three Brains.
Q: You’re a busy boy - touring The Man With Three Brains, visiting Norwich Playhouse tomorrow, Cambridge Junction November 24 and Southend’s Palace Theatre December 3; new Dave TV show Don’t Say It, Bring It and you’re a judge on Ireland’s Got Talent alongside Louis Walsh, Denise Van Outen and Michelle Visage. How are you fitting everything in...
I’m not (laughs). I may’ve said yes to about three too many things. The other thing we’re trying to fit in is family life as well. My talent will be trying to run my life and hoping I win the thing myself, it’s insane. I always compare us to surgeons; you get a really good one, he or she’s busy forever. That’s what happens with comedians now.
I had an interest in stand-up because I didn’t want to work and had this notion of lying around the flat. That’s how I did do stand-up when I first started. I used to share a flat with another stand-up in Dublin city centre. We walked into town, gigged on a Wednesday and a Friday and then we had money for food rent and drink and that was us. All I can say is I was a richer man when I started doing stand-up than I am now. I’m just exhausted now. I also have to keep fit as well, so I’m running between gigs.
Q: If your wife and two children want to see you they’ll have to audition for Ireland’s Got Talent...
On the day I got that show, I heard the Dave show’s being released and my phone was hopping with congratulations - ‘well done’, other people going ‘that’s brilliant’ - and I got a text from my wife and all she said to me all day was ‘you could have put that bin out as you drove past’ (laughs).
Q: You took the new tour to Edinburgh Fringe Festival where you’ve become a regular fixture...
Twenty-two years there, it’s nothing like Arthur Smith who arrived there in 1962 or something.
Every time I go to do Edinburgh or I go on tour I just go ‘oh my God I hope it’s going to be okay’. Then I realise it’s always okay. People come back because it’s always a good show. I know how to do it now.
I’d do Edinburgh all the time because it’s one venue for four weeks. I don’t have to move my stuff around, I stay in the flat, get a bike, cycle all over the place, I love that. I play football, golf, watch loads of other shows. That’s the way you have to approach that festival.
If you don’t enjoy Edinburgh you’re sitting in your flat, looking out the window, worrying about your show every night; which is what a lot of acts do. You’ve got to embrace Edinburgh and then let it do the work for you; then it’s just a great festival.
Touring, I don’t get to see any other acts or anything else’ there’s just me and my poor tour manager who I torment. Last year I found all the different running tracks around each city, I had great fun. The show’s quite energetic, a lot of people getting up, doing stunts with me and then all the improv, all this thinking on me feet stuff.
Q: The Man With Three Brains is a look at how your mind works during a gig, scanning the audience for improv moments, collating material and stunts and pushing yourself to the limit...
I think it’s a cry for help basically (laughs) because people don’t understand, it’s probably the man with 78million different concerts on the go at the same time... it’s a very very busy head to be inside all the time. On stage I could probably power a small city. If I had to do a table created against me off-stage and me on-stage there’s no way I’d beat the guy on stage, not a chance.
I don’t know what is happening inside that head, but it’s able to open all sorts of doors and go down all sorts of corridors. It’s also being brave and taking a chance with a subject, taking a chance of getting people up onstage and ‘who the hell am I talking to?’ so I’m constantly dealing with complete mayhem. When this Third World War starts I’m going to be a lot of use to people, I’m pretty good at multi-tasking.
Doing a gig for Kim Jong-un would be great.. Imagine him, ‘get me the button, this guy’s saying stuff’. Funnily enough I have a button in my show which sets off Irish dancing music for about seven seconds. I’ve had such fun with that.
I use it for hecklers, I’ve used it in case the atmosphere drops in the room, in case anybody on stage says something that’s not politically correct. It’s basically to wipe people’s memories if something happens. I’d love it if your man there goes to press the button and all he hears is (hums Irish music and laughs).
Q: You’re enjoying the tour...
I don’t look forward to the travelling, that can be quite intense. But the British audiences have always been so good to me and you get on stage and it’s worth the effort. They just want to have a laugh, it’s unbelievable how much people need to have a laugh.