Comedian Jason Byrne on taking Jason Manford’s Manchester crown and Corrie ahead of Lowry gig

Comedian Jason Byrne talks to MM about house-hunting with Johnny Vegas, taking Jason Manford’s crown and Coronation Street ahead of his show at the Lowry tomorrow night.

The biggest selling comedian at Edinburgh Fringe Festival took his tour 20 Years A Clown on the road after celebrating his 20th appearance at the event this year, but says this tour offers him more time with his audience. 

He told MM: “At Edinburgh I only had an hour and I’ve never been mad about doing just an hour. 

“On the tour I have two, the first hour is a lot of prop-based stuff like I did in the nineties, it’s like Jason Byrne from 1996, it’s just really silly and great fun! 

“The second half is more classic stand-up and there’s a lot of nostalgic stuff about being younger. 

Jason said the audience plays a major role in the gig and the Manchester crowd should expect non-stop madness. 

“I know the Manchester crowd will keep me on my toes. The rest of the tour has just been training for the Manchester gig.” 

“I’m looking forward to Manchester, it’s very Irish and a bit like gigging in front of all your mad uncles and aunties. 

And Jason admits that in the past his Mancunian audiences have shown potential for taking his place on stage. 

“One of my best ever heckles was in Manchester. 

“I was talking to the audience about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s film Predator and I said ‘does anyone know what Predator is?’ 

“None of the young people in the audience knew but some guy in the very back in a Mancunian accent went ‘GET TO THE CHOPPER!’ – the crowd were in tears of laughter. 

The 43-year-old said he has many fond memories of the city over the years.

“I remember going to Manchester with Johnny Vegas and we went out to St Helens to have a look at a house he wanted to buy,” he said.

“We were with his Dad and brothers and the family showing us the house went ‘oh it’s Johnny Vegas!’

“But they had no idea who I was so this poor woman had Johnny Vegas, all of his family, and this comedian walking around her house. 

“He ended up buying the house!” 

During a busy few years of juggling touring with being a family man, Jason has turned his hand to many different projects. 

The star has recently hosted a brand new comedy chat show Jason Byrne’s Snaptastic Show for TV3 in Ireland and is co-presenter of Sky 1’s new wildlife-themed entertainment programme Wild Things.

As if success on stage and screen wasn’t enough, his Radio 2 show was awarded the industry’s prestigious Sony Radio Gold Award. 

Jason, who is a TV regular in Australia, says that in the comedy business confidence comes with longevity and says that times have changed since he first began gigging 20 years ago. 

“When I started out I used to do loads of clubs with other comics, I wasn’t known enough to go out on my own,” he said.

“It’s tough when you start by yourself but it’s easier once you’ve got fans coming to see you. “I’m totally on top of everything now, I never die on my arse because you learn how to deal with everything. 

“It’s like if you asked a surgeon ‘do patients still die on the operating table?’ 

“Basically I’ve been operating for twenty years so they don’t die anymore. I don’t cut into their face when I’m taking out their appendix.” 

“I have my own special little cult and they’re a little bit special, it’s like someone dropped my audience on their head when they were born.” 

The Live At The Apollo star said he changes his approach depending on which city he’s in but always gets a warm reception in the North. 

“I find working-class cities like Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle way easier to do. 

“I love going to Manchester because I don’t have to work hard, I can just go on stage and talk about my mum chasing me around with a slipper and everyone gets it.”

Jason’s ties with the city are strengthened by his love for Manchester United but he says it might be some time before he gets the Jason Manford treatment. 

“I’ve been to Old Trafford before but I was so high up that I didn’t like it, I could hardly see the players and I couldn’t even hear the ref’s whistle! 

“I’ve never had a ticket down at pitch level so I’ll have to wait until John Bishop or Jason Manford dies to see if I can get a ticket,” he said.

“They always seem to get tickets to the matches they want!” 

No visit to Manchester is complete without a trip down the cobbles and Jason hopes to see some Weatherfield favourites in the crowd on Friday. 

“When I was in Manchester years ago I was doing a sitcom in the ITV studios where Coronation Street was filmed. 

“I turned a corner and Gail Platt, Rita and Sally Webster were facing me and I said ‘oh hi!’ as if I knew them, I just didn’t think! 

“The three of them just went ‘hello…’ and in my head I’m going ‘bollocks, that’s right they’re off the tele, I don’t actually know them.’ 

“So if there’s anyone in the crowd on Friday from Coronation Street I’ll probably say ‘I haven’t seen you in ages!’” 

The Irishman’s tour, 20 Years A Clown, sees him cover the length and breadth of England and Scotland before taking the tour over to Ireland in the New Year. 

Jason brings his tour to the Lowry on October 30.

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