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Interview with comedian Jason Byrne

12 May 2015 | Sarah Fortescue

Jason Byrne is an award-winning Irish comedian, who has been performing for almost 20 years. We asked him about audience interaction, insane energy levels, and what it is about Ireland that produces so many top comedians…

London Calling: What can we expect from your Live at the Chapel performance?

Jason Byrne: I would have spent a lot of time in Australia by the time I get there, so I’ve been studying animals a lot here. I will be bringing some fantastic animal impressions and costumes, along with funny stories about the outback, God and why sandwiches aren’t flat anymore…

LC: You’ve been performing now for nearly 20 years – how do you continue finding new material for audiences?

JB: I used to stroll around taking things in, letting stuff happen around me, and if I thought it was funny enough I’d use it. Now I don’t have so much time to sit around, so I make things happen. I’ve been arrested twice in the past now for my actions, but I got a solid set out of it.

LC: What are the best parts about live comedy?  Do you think it brings something extra to audiences?

JB: Live is king, people love to go to live events; music, cinema, art, and comedy. You have to be in the room with all those people to really feel the atmosphere and join in with the laughter – laughter breeds laughter.

LC: You’ve developed a reputation for audience interaction – is it something you enjoy, not knowing who’s coming in and what they’ll bring to the show?

JB: I love my audience, the general public are funny as, so when they’re all together in a room it’s like the teacher’s not in and they just do and tell me anything. I’ve never had trouble with a crowd, I just get more out of some than others. Though, one time I invited a guy on stage who, after looking back out into the crowd, ran off and was never seen again!

LC: What is it about Ireland, producing so many quality stand-up comedians?

JB: We have comedy camps in Ireland, much like Al Qaeda’s terrorist camps. We send out trained men and women with lethal stories, sketches and props to tell and show the world. A joke blew up in my face on the way to a gig once, I laughed on my own for two weeks. Not a pretty sight.

LC: You’ve performed at the Edinburgh Fringe for years, and keep returning – is there something special about it, for you? For comedy?

JB: Edinburgh is like the gym in Rocky. If you can do a brilliant show there, you can do it anywhere. People from all over the world are sitting watching you, so you’re essentially doing global stand up in one city. Deep.

LC: Your energy levels seem to verge on insane. Are you the same in the pub as you are on stage, or do you leave and collapse into a sofa with a beer until the next one?

JB: I’m totally different off stage, I’m 43 now, so all I do after a gig is recover, in pain, in a chair with a high back on it #whensmynextvisitor.

Live at the Chapel with Jason Byrne will be at Union Chapel on Saturday 6th June. Jason will be supported by Liam Williams and Simon Munnery.

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