Comedian Ed Byrne at Norwich Playhouse

Emma Lee Ed Byrne has a problem. The Dublin-born comedian just doesn't know where he fits in. Is he middle class? Is he working class? It's a question he attempts to answer in his latest stand-up show, in Norwich this week.

Emma Lee

Ed Byrne has a problem. The Dublin-born comedian just doesn't know where he fits in. Is he middle class? Is he working class? It's a question he attempts to answer in his latest stand-up show, in Norwich this week.

“Basically the show is called Different Class,” he says, grabbing a quick chat with EDP2 between venues.

“And it's all about the fact that today people aren't 100pc sure which class they are. You have people who say they're working class, but they're a quantity surveyor.”

Different Class made its debut at this summer's Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to wide acclaim, followed by a five-week residency at the Riverside Studios in London, before a pre-Christmas jaunt around the country.

One of the sharpest observational comics on the circuit, the show also explores his inability to fit in with the youth of today, his recent nuptials, his slide into grumpy old man-dom and his inability to think up the perfect riposte until it's way too late.

Most Read

“Then there's a lot of stuff in there about how I got married recently - I got a lot of stories from the preparations for that. And then you know when you get into an argument and you think of the perfect thing to say - only it's the next day? There's a lot about that. It perhaps doesn't sound funny when you describe it - but it is,” he says.

Essex-based Ed regularly charms both audiences and critics. But it took quite a lot of persuasion to get him up on stage.

“I don't really know where it came from,” he says.

“As a kid I used to talk along to Billy Connolly records. But I didn't think about it seriously. Then at college a friend of mine used to write down the funny things I said and he'd present me with a list at the end of the month. But doing stand up was so nerve wracking. I remember after my first paying gig I said 'there's no way I can do this for a living'. I couldn't get that nervous before I go to work.”

The 36-year-old is one of those lucky comedians whose humour travels well - he's played sell-out shows in Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand and the US, where he's appeared on Late Night With Conan O'Brien five times.

He also flirts with acting, having starred in several films and on TV in Father Ted, in the ITV sitcom Sam's Game opposite Davina McCall and in the BBC's Doctors, playing a wheeler dealer. His theatre credits include the lead role in Brian McAvera's King's of the Road, which played the Edinburgh Festival for the full three-week run in 2004 before transferring to Dublin's Ambassador's Theatre for three weeks after a short run at the Greenwich Festival and Winchester Theatre Royal.

And, of course, he's a panel and chat show regular, popping up on programmes like Mock the Week, 8 Out of 10 Cats, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Graham Norton's Bigger Picture and Have I Got News For You.

But, pre-empting my inevitable line of questioning, he's quick to clarify that there's no behind the scenes rivalry.

“You're not trying to step on each other,” he says. And while it may seem that the on-screen banter is off the cuff, they do have a bit of time to prepare.

“You do get some indication of what you're going to be talking about. Have I Got News For You probably has the least and Mock the Week has the most, but they're all different animals,” he says.

As well as the tour, Ed has filmed a stand up special for the Paramount Comedy Channel, is developing a radio show for BBC Radio 2 and is writing a book about mountain climbing.

“I've got into a routine now where I do Edinburgh every two years. It suits my writing pace,” he says.

Ed Byrne plays Norwich Playhouse this Thursday and Friday, October 30-31, with support from New Zealand comic Ben Hurley. For latest availability phone 01603 598598.