A popular comedian is coming to Wrexham this November as part of his UK tour, Tragedy Plus Time.

From the quote attributed to Mark Twain, humour is defined as Tragedy Plus Time, so join Ed Byrne as he tests that formula by mining the most tragic event in his life for laughs at the William Aston Hall on November 17.

With his TV career now in its third decade, Ed has regularly appeared on the likes of QI, Mock The Week, Alan Davies As Yet Untitled, The Pilgrimage, Dara and Ed’s Road to Mandalay, Dara & Ed’s Big Adventure, The Graham Norton Show and Have I Got News For You, as well as hosting Live At The Apollo and Comic Relief Bake Off.

He was recently seen as a contestant on BBC One’s Celebrity Best Home Cook (where he made it to show 5 out of 8 – not bad!) and he has also won celebrity versions of both The Chase and Pointless!

In an interview by Jason Barlow, Ed Byrne talked about his show.

The Leader: Ed Byrne Ed Byrne (Image: Roslyn Gaunt)

“It’s something of a departure, and I’m slightly worried about that,” he concedes. “I’ve never really had the desire to write a show that had an overly serious element to it. I got a lot of five-star reviews on the last show [2019’s If I’m Honest], but some four-star ones that opined, ‘well it’s funny, but that’s all it is…’ As if that’s not enough these days. Frankly, just being funny is a furrow I’ve been happy to occupy. But this new show features some heart-wrenching, soul-bearing stuff.”

For Tragedy Plus Time, Ed bravely ventures into the world of grief and loss, a decision prompted by the passing of his younger brother Paul, aged just 44, in February 2022. Comedy that takes death as its cue is not unprecedented, but it’s a path that takes considerable creative courage to explore. 

“I was in two minds about whether to do a show of this nature,” Ed explains. “Then I decided this was the subject I was going to tackle but I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. But once I started down that road, that was it… Then my main worry was, how funny is it going to be and is it going to work?”

He said: “I’ve spoken to people who worked with Paul, who was a comedy director, and they’ve said that his thing was, ‘you can be as emotional as you like and as serious as you like, but there has to be a joke’. So the idea of saying something purely for the emotional gut punch was off the table.”

Ed has also deliberately eschewed a linear narrative structure in favour of an approach that mirrors the unpredictable nature of grief itself.

“Obviously I don’t want the whole thing to be an onslaught,” he says. “That’s partly because of the digressions, and that’s why they’re there. But they also illustrate how grief works in that you can still have a good time, you can still be happy, you can still have a laugh about other things and be frivolous. But grief is always there waiting for you when you’re done with being silly.

“The show does elicit a very pure emotional response in the audience. There’s something about the fact that when somebody dies, everyone else carries on like nothing’s happened. Because nothing has happened to them. So there’s an anger in grief, too… how can everyone else carry on as though nothing has happened?”

Ed candidly admits that mining his family’s bereavement for comedic effect would challenge his performing skills – and emotional bandwidth – in a unique way.

The Leader:

“Death is universal. We will all lose someone. So the best thing to do is laugh at it,” he says. “Although I was aware, when I was first writing and performing this new show, that there was a danger I might, you know, lose it onstage.

"I did a work-in-progress at the Museum of Comedy and there was an audible crack in my voice. On the third performance I did actually cry on stage, and I’m sure for anyone who was there [assumes a very theatrical voice] ‘it was a very powerful experience’. But I don’t want it to be the sort of thing where I rip my heart out and stamp on it for the audience’s delectation. I’ve been able to throttle back my emotions and keep them in check.” 

More information about the tour can be found here: https://edbyrne.com/live-dates/