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Comedian Byrne thinks he’s set record for questions answered for Indian press

art-and-culture Updated: Sep 19, 2016 01:20 IST
As told to Poorva Joshi
As told to Poorva Joshi
HindustanTimes
Highlight Story

Ahead of Jason Byrne’s stand up comedy gig in Mumbai, we speak to the Irish stand-up comedian.

A man walks on to the stage in a blue T-shirt. The heavy Irish needs some getting used to. He smirks at the audience - especially the ones in the first row. “Look at all you ladies, settling down your hair and smoothing your tops. Yes, yes. You’re going to be on TV! But look at the laddies [men] here - they don’t give a sh**t,” he shouts.

The audience grins back. They look nervous. They should be. The man on stage is stand-up comedian Jason Byrne. And Byren’s signature gigs often see him pull out audience members to pick on. That’s probably what makes him so popular - the video has over one million views.

The 44-year old Irish man has been a comedian for over 20 years. He’s a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival - the world largest performing arts festival - and has won the Sony Radio Gold Award for Best Comedy in 2011. And now, he’s on his first India tour.

Ahead of his show in the city, we speak to him about the best part of being a stand up comedian, his TV show, and his personal record of responding to media requests.

How old were you when you did your first show? What do you remember from it?

I was about 21. Lots of staring, lots of swearing. Lots of sweating, lots of learning.

You’ve been a stand-up comedian for over 20 years now. Any interesting highlights?

Hopefully none of my shows have been or ever will be ‘interesting’. I prefer the term ‘snort-your-drink-out-of-your-nose hilarious. Having said, being invited to India is definitely a career highlight.

What has been you greatest challenge, career-wise?

In the past week, I’ve set a new world record for answering questions for the Indian press. It was tough but worth it. I love India and its energy.

Your favourite comedians.

Spike Milligan - my favourite Irish Indian. And then, of course, Louis CK, Sam Simmons, and Dylan Moran.

When you’re on stage, what is your favourite part of standing before a crowd?

The bit where the roller coaster gets to the top and is just about to go down. It might only be a metaphorical analogy at stand up shows, but it does happen.

You have a popular TV show on BBC One - Father Figure. You’ve written the six-part series and have acted in it. What was that like?

I’m a father of two boys, so that’s where the idea came from. It was developed through BBC radio which was brilliant. Everyone left us alone and we did what we wanted. But, it gets difficult when you move to TV. Too many voices, too many bosses, trying to please too many people.

You’ve performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for years now. How has journey been ?

I’ve performed there 21 times. Have I changed as a person? Maybe. I eat a lot less white bread and it takes me a lot longer to get out of a chair.

This is you first show on India.

Imagine you and your friends were given the keys to the toy shop and the sweet shop. And you spend the whole night there eating too much sugar and having the best fun ever with no adults around to tell you what to do and then when you’ve had enough you all lie on the floor eating ice cream and watch The Goonies [1985]... hopefully it’s a bit like that.

Any collaborative performance with an Indian comic we can look forward to?

Yes, I have a Bollywood comedy version of Game of Thrones I’m trying to get off the ground. Wait for it.

AGP World bring Jason Byrne with his signature sketch Propped Up, on September 17, at 7pm. Tickets: Rs 750 onward on bookmyshow.com/events