Comedian Ed Byrne explains to James Rampton how marriage has helped the material in his new show Different Class become his best and funniest ever

The applause went on so long the night I saw Ed Byrne at the Riverside Studios in London recently, the comedian was forced to return to the stage for an encore. The audience simply wouldn’t leave until they had been treated to a few more of his comic gems.

But it’s no surprise, Ed has been having that effect wherever he has travelled with his new show, Different Class. He has been wowing punters up and down the country.

With the applause still ringing in his ears, Ed takes time to chat to me in his dressing room after his rapturously received show at the Riverside.

The comedian is just as charming off stage as on it. He possesses a genuine magnetism which he exudes like one of those force fields in an old episode of Star Trek.

It is a real pleasure to spend an hour in his company. It’s like being treated to a command performance to an audience of one.

Ed, who hails from Swords in Dublin, starts by assessing why his Different Class is striking such a chord with audiences. He thinks they are lapping it up because he reveals so much about himself in his act.

What is appealing is how candidly the comic discusses everything from his recent wedding to his frustration at only thinking up the appropriate bon mot long after the moment has passed. “The best comedy comes from a personal angle,” declares 36-year-old Ed, who has shone on such TV shows as Have I Got News For You, Mock the Week, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and 8 out of 10 Cats. “ Sometimes you hear a comedian on stage saying, ‘I’m single,’ and you think, ‘no, you’re not, you’re married with kids!’ I think it makes a great difference if as a comic you can take your own life and tell the truth about it. If it’s real, it makes it so much better. It gives it much more authenticity and has far greater punch.”

The Irishman, who since last summer has been very happily married, continues that, “you could be accused of self-indulgence, but my experience has been that audiences really like it when you reveal something of yourself on stage. It’s not funny unless they believe it.

“For instance, one section of Different Class that goes down very well is where I talk about my status. I discuss the difficulty of neither being massively famous nor totally obscure and how strange it is simply to be known as ‘that bloke’. The audience really enjoy the feeling of getting to know me better.”

One of the many outstanding sections of Different Class, which completely sold out during its month-long run at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, concerns Ed’s recent wedding.

He extracts loads of laughs from highlighting the numerous rip-offs in the wedding industry. He jokes, for example, that, “the best thing is that since I’ve been married, I haven’t had to plan a f****** wedding!”

He also wants to congratulate the man who invented the tradition that the groom should never see his bride’s dress before The Big Day: “I want to shake his hand for getting us out of that particular shopping expedition. ‘Honey, nothing would give me greater pleasure than watching you try on infinity wedding dresses.’”

Ed reflects that in this part of the show, “I’m not slagging off my wife, I’m slagging off the wedding industry. Everyone can relate to the minor frustrations that any wedding involves, such as arguing about stuff that you don’t really care about!”

In this show, the comic also proffers some very strong material on that perennial obsession: the class system. Ed comes up with some great lines about it.

“Pheasant is posh,” he muses at one point, “even if you eat it with Alphabetti Spaghetti!”

The stand-up observes that, “We’re all fascinated by the subject of class, and there’s a lot of comic mileage in it. It’s a leitmotif that runs through the show. The funny thing is, when I’ve been asking the audience here at the Riverside, ‘who would call themselves middle class?’, only one brave soul usually puts his hand up. I can’t believe that in an affluent West London there is only one middle-class person!” Ed is delighted that Different Class is quite rightly receiving so much acclaim. He tries to appraise quite why it has chimed with audiences to such a degree. “I’ve been reliably informed that this is my best show yet,” he smiles.

“It’s partly down to experience. More than anything, though, as mushy as it sounds, it’s down to the love of a good woman. That really helps my comedy because it means I’m freer to focus on it.

“In 2004, a lot of my show was centred on my bitterness about a previous girlfriend. It was cathartic, but at the same time it wasn’t very fair, as she wasn’t there to stand up for herself. That style didn’t suit me. I think what I’m doing now suits me much better.”

The stand-up adds that, “I’m now leading a life that lends itself much better to comedy. I’m doing lovely things like getting married and reporting on that and audiences seem to warm to it.”

Never more than a minute or two away from the next joke, Ed concludes with a mischievous grin that, “of course, if my wife ever left me, I’d end up doing the divorce show, and it’s quite possible that that wouldn’t go down very well at all! People prefer me when I’m happy.”

Because he makes the rest of us happy, too.

Ed Byrne’s Different Class, The Orchard, Dartford, Feb 21. 7.45pm. 01322 220000.