ED BYRNE is at his peak – literally. The Irish comic has become obsessed with hill walking and spends a lot of his spare time adding new climbs to his completist list.
When in Scotland he ‘bags’ Munros (those peaks above 3,000ft – of which he’s climbed 75), and the slightly geeky side of him admits that elsewhere in the British Isles he also collects ‘county tops’ – the highest point in a given county.
“I’ve downloaded an app for them,” he says with a laugh, “and started making a list of those I’ve done!”
Now 43, Ed’s latest stand-up show, Outside, Looking In, focuses on family life – where he has inflicted his new love of the outdoor life on wife Claire and their sons.
“So far, they love it: camping and canoeing, that sort of thing,” he says. “As the boys are growing, it’s hard to be apart from them when I’m on tour, and I try not to be away for more than a couple of days at a time, but one of the great things about my job is that it means I can spend a lot of time with them when I’m home.”
The Mock the Week star admits the new show is his most personal yet, adding: “I didn’t make a conscious effort to make it that way, but that’s what came out when I started writing it.
“People come to see me for a laugh and I would like to think they go away thinking the show is quite heartwarming.
“A lot of comics may talk about the same stuff, but what makes it mine is that what I’m saying is what I genuinely think on this subject, and I try to make it as funny as I can. I think we all mine our lives to some degree or other.”
Ed is adamant that he will keep his two young sons out of the celebrity spotlight, so don’t expect an ‘At Home With Ed Byrne and Family’ spread in OK! any time soon. But in Outside, Looking In, he does show a picture of one of his sons – the denouement of a bittersweet story about buying new shoes, which not only illustrates it perfectly, but produces an ‘Aaah’ moment from audiences.
“I’m aware that they haven’t given me permission to talk about them and that there will come a point when I can’t,” he says.
“John Bishop, for example, has stopped talking about his [much older] children on stage because people know who they are.
“I talk about them in pretty abstract terms, because what I’m discussing is the act of parenting, and you can’t talk about that without mentioning your children. And there isn’t anything in this show that would make them at a later date say, ‘I don’t like this’.”
Ed Byrne will bring Outside, Looking In to G Live in Guildford on Tuesday 15 March.