Voyage Around My Father

Jason Byrne on the man who inspired his career. And his latest comic creation.

When Jason Byrne’s father passed away on February 24th 2020, the Dublin comedian was by his hospital bedside.

It was the first time that Jason had had anyone close to him dying, and certainly in the case of his much-loved pop, he needed to be there.

And he also knew in that moment that his father would live on in his work.

After all, as a great man once said, “If you don’t continue to talk about someone when they die, they die twice”. That great man being Paddy Lama, the semi-biographical comedy creation of Jason Byrne that’s three-quarters his late father, Paddy, and one-quarter a mix of David Brent, Alan Partridge and Shay Clear.

That Jason built a shrine in his garden shed to dad was the genesis for his latest show, coming to The Whale this Wednesday. With Thursday and Friday given over to his regular stand-up, Paddy Lama: Shed Talks is all about celebrating that peculiar breed of old school Dublin wisdom that likes to dazzle with brilliance whilst also baffling with baloney.

As well as a voyage around his father, the show is also part of a mental health mission, with Byrne’s podcast, Mind Your Loaf, tackling one of the key issues of the day with interviews, workshops and, of course, plenty of humour.

“I adopted #healthymental instead of #mentalhealth for my Mind Your Loaf podcasts and events,” says Byrne. “It’s so funny when people go, she’s mad, he’s mad – sure, everyone’s mental. There’s no definition of sanity.”

Or, as Paddy Byrne used to say, “It’s healthy to be mental.”

In the end, his father’s death was quick, passing away two days after a stroke, and part of the coping mechanism for the Byrne family was humour. As Jason revealed shortly afterwards, “People at his funeral, they were going, ‘Jammy bastard’. He didn’t end up in a wheelchair, he didn’t have to come home in pain.”

Young Jason has come a long way from bagging the runner-up spot in the So You Think You’re Funny? awards at the Edinburgh festival in 1996, a series of Perrier nominations sending him on his way to become that annual chucklefest’s biggest-selling comedian. Sell-out tours around the world, an award-winning BBC radio show, being a judge on Ireland’s Got Talent, his 2018 children’s book The Accidental Adventures of Onion O’Brien – through it all, the man’s main passion has always been stand-up.

“I draw down from my dad a lot,” Byrne says of finally getting back out there on stage. “I call him the Paddy Lama In The Shed because he never freaked out about anything.

“He used to say, ‘Sure, what feckin’ good is it going to do you, you don’t gain anything from losing the plot’.”

Jason Byrne: Paddy Lama is at The Whale on Wednesday, July 13th (followed by a Q&A), whilst his stand-up shows are on Thursday 14th and 15th.

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