Sheffield gets some honest laughs from comedian and TV star Ed Byrne

Popular stand-up comedian and TV documentary presenter Ed Byrne brings his self-deprecating humour to Sheffield in his new tour.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 10:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 12:15 pm
Stand-up comedian Ed Byrne, appearing at Sheffield City Hall in January as part of his If I'm Honest tour

A regular on Mock The Week and The Graham Norton Show, Ed co-presented Dara & Ed’s Big Adventure with Dara O’Briain and its follow-up Dara & Ed’s Road To Mandalay, and managed not to disgrace himself on Top Gear or whilst tackling one of The World’s Most Dangerous Roads. He also brought a refreshing warmth and honesty to BBC2’s hit The Pilgrimage in 2018.

Ed’s new show If I’m Honest digs ever deeper into a father’s sense of responsibility, what it means to be a man in 2020 and whether he possesses any qualities whatsoever worth passing on to his two sons.

Occasionally accused of whimsy, If I’m Honest is a show with a seriously steely core, writes Jason Barlow.

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“I’ll admit that there are things where men get a raw deal,” he said. “We have higher suicide rates, and we tend not to do well in divorces, but representation in action movies is not something we have an issue with.

“It was Mad Max: Fury Road that kicked it all off, even though nobody complained about Ripley in Alien or Sarah Connor in Terminator 2. Of course, social media means this stuff gets broadcast far and wide in an instant, which emboldens people.

“The problem with men’s rights activists is that it’s not about speaking up for men’s rights, it’s about hating women.

“If you’re a men’s rights activist, you’re not going to care about the fact that there’s an all-female Ghostbusters remake. That’s nothing to do with men’s rights or female entitlement. That’s everything to do with being, well, a whiny baby.”

As ever, Ed manages to provoke without being overly polemical, a balancing act that only someone of his huge experience can really pull off.

“I did stuff about Trump and the Pizzagate right wing conspiracy and a couple of the reviewers said, ‘Oh, I would have liked to have watched a whole show of this’. And I think, ‘well you might have, but the average person who comes to see me would not like to see that’.

“I like to make a point or get something off my chest, or perhaps I’m talking about something that’s been on my mind, but the majority of stuff is just to get laughs.

“People who come to see me are not political activists necessarily, they’re regular folk.

“If you can make a point to them, in between talking about your struggles with ageing, or discussing your hernia operation or whatever it is, you can toss in something that does give people pause as regards to how men should share the household chores.”

The new show also takes his natural tendency towards self-deprecation to unexpected extremes.

“I do genuinely annoy myself but the thing of your children being a reflection of you, gives you an opportunity to build something out of the best of yourself only for you to then see flashes of the worst of yourself in them.

“It’s a wake-up call about your own behaviour.”

He doesn’t think he takes it too far. “The fact is when you’re the bloke who is standing on the stage with the microphone, commanding an audience’s attention, you’re in a very elevated position anyway.”

Ed Byrne If I’m Honest is appearing at Sheffield City Hall on January 25. Tickets: www.shefieldcityhall.co.uk