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Did you hear the one about top comic Ed Byrne marrying a DMU graduate?


Critically-acclaimed stand-up comedian Ed Byrne has revealed he knows all about De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

 Ed Byrne Mr & Mrs in 2018

Ed and Claire appeared on the ITV show Mr&Mrs

Ed bounced onto the stage at Leicester Comedy Festival’s Gala Preview Show and took just seconds to tell the sell-out crowd at De Montfort Hall about his link to the university.

The show’s host gave a shout-out to DMU and explained he was married to DMU graduate Claire Walker, who was one of the students who founded the Comedy Festival 25 years ago.

Ed has enjoyed success around the world during more than 20 years in comedy. He has appeared on numerous TV shows, such as Mock The Week, Have I Got News For You, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, The Graham Norton Show and Father Ted.


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His jokes at the De Montfort Hall show focused on his family as he called his wife ‘ the most sarcastic person in the world’ and said their two children were ‘too posh’ as they had a trampoline the same size as his first flat.

The preview show highlighted the array of talent that will be involved in more than 830 events at the Leicester Comedy Festival, sponsored by DMU, from February 7 to 25.

Claire, who is a theatre publicist, said:  “I’m used to Ed mentioning me on stage as we’ve been married for 10 years.

“A lot of his comedy is about his family life and that involves me and the children. I don’t mind, I know it’s all for comedy effect.

Ed Byrne and Claire again main

Ed and Claire after they met

“He usually just says his wife rather than naming me.  But because this show was in Leicester he gave me a name-check and joked that’s how he got the gig!”

Ed and Claire met at the 2003 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where Ed pursued Claire for two weeks until she agreed to a date.  The couple got married in 2008 with fellow comedian Dara O’Brian as their best man.

Claire said they appreciated each other’s senses of humour and were always making each other laugh.

She said: “I’ve also worked in comedy all my life, so it’s great that we’re both in the industry.

“I’m so proud of the success of Leicester Comedy Festival; it’s a real coup to have England’s longest-running festival on my CV. I like to tell people I was involved at its conception.”

Claire was on the same course as Geoff Rowe, Director at Leicester Comedy Festival, and the two of them remain friends. They studied Performing Arts with Arts Management at DMU and were among the students to set up the comedy festival as part of their course in 1994.

Geoff said: “It’s really great for the Festival to be supported by comedians such as Ed Byrne.

“We have a really close relationship with Ed because Claire who helped set up the Festival went on to become his wife.

“I studied with Claire for three years at DMU and we were involved in the first two Leicester Comedy Festivals together before her career took her to London.

“They have a young family now, but we really appreciate that they both support the Festival when they can.”

Geoff added that there were also at least 12 DMU students working as volunteers behind the scenes at the preview show.

He joked: “DMU definitely took over that night. There were mentions from the comedians and lots of student volunteers; it was like the DMU show!”

For more information on the Leicester Comedy Festival and tickets, visit  or call 0116 456 6812.

Posted on Friday 26th January 2018

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