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My First Edinburgh: Ed Byrne – ‘I thought I had a good chance of winning’

Ed Byrne. Photo: Roslyn Gaunt
Ed Byrne. Photo: Roslyn Gaunt
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I have at least three Edinburgh ‘debut’ experiences. In 1994 I entered So You Think You’re Funny? at Gilded Balloon, which is the annual competition for new acts. The heats went well and I thought I had a good chance of winning, which made it somewhat disappointing when Martin Trenaman did that instead.

I was back in 1995 as part of a package show of Irish comics called Young Gifted and Green 2 with Andrew Maxwell and Kevin Hayes. On the back of it we ended up doing a tour in Australia. Being young, free and single at the time, and with beer and members of the opposite sex in abundance, that trip turned out to be one of the best times of my career (or at least what I can remember of it).

My first solo show was in 1996. I had done one of my first TV gigs (on The Big, Big Talent Show with Jonathan Ross) about 10 days before, and mainly on the strength of that my little 50-seat venue was packed out for all the shows. It got to be embarrassing, because I would be meeting my peers on the circuit who were doing all the flyering, hustling and the rest of the stuff you normally have to do to get people into your show. I should point out that even with selling out the venue every night we didn’t actually make any money.

My advice to anybody doing their own first Edinburgh show? It obviously helps if you can get onto a primetime television show fairly close to your debut. But since, even if you do that, you’re quite likely to end up broke, the best approach you can take is just decide to have fun and enjoy the experience whatever happens.


CV: Ed Byrne

Age: 45
Trained: Horticulture at University of Strathclyde
TV and film includes: Mock the Week; The One Show; Dara and Ed’s Big Adventure; Reunited; Have I Got News for You; Father Ted; Late Night with Conan O’Brian; Around Ireland With a Fridge; Rat; Are You Ready for Love?

Theatre includes: Many stand-up tours of Britain and Ireland, as well as touring internationally. Played the lead in Brian McAvera’s King of the Road in Edinburgh, Dublin, Greenwich and Winchester
Other credits: Eight years as voice-over for Carphone Warehouse commercials
Agent: Vivienne Smith


Ed Byrne’s latest show, Spoiler Alert, is at the Assembly George Square Theatre Edinburgh (Venue 8) August 2-13, 15-27 and then on national tour. He was talking to John Byrne

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