Comedian Jason Byrne keeping his dad’s memory alive with shrine in his shed

Comedian Jason Byrne and TV presenter Sinead Quinlan launch MIND YOUR LOAF show

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Jason Byrne has told how he has kept his dad’s memory alive with a shrine in his shed.

The comedian has revealed that his mental health suffered after numerous deaths in the family.

Dubliner Jason, 49, told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “I lost my dad in February last year at the start of the pandemic.

“I’ve lost aunties, uncles… my dad was the devastating one, my auntie was in the home for three years, so it was like, ‘Thank God’.

“I’ve got a picture of my dad in my shed and I call him the Paddy Lama, I put up pictures of things he said.

“He used to say, ‘Mental health? Sure it’s healthy to be mental’.

Jason Byrne's father Paddy

“So I adopted #healthymental instead of mental health for my Mind Your Loaf podcasts and events.

“It’s so funny when people go, she’s mad, he’s mad, sure everyone’s mental, there’s no definition of sanity.”

The dad of two admitted he still misses Ireland’s Got Talent where he was on the judging panel with Denise Van Outen, Michelle Visage and Louis Walsh.

He said: “There was so much fun. I never watched these types of shows, so when I was asked to do it, I wasn’t sure I was like, is it a cool thing or a s*** thing.

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“Then you realise in the comedy world, the only people who matter are your audience, the other people in the entertainment industry don’t matter a f***.

“I always say to young comedians, see those other comedians in the dressing room, they don’t pay your wages, so you don’t make them happy, make the other people happy.”

Mental health advocacy has become Jason’s passion during lockdown.

He revealed: “I am pushing this mental health thing quite a lot now.

“I’ve just flowed with it and not against it, it just keeps landing in my lap.”

Mixing his stand-up with his interest in mental health led to the Mind Your Loaf podcast.

From Bressie to leading psychotherapists and comedians, Jason has interviewed the best of the best in the mindfulness sphere. He explained how paying for his own therapy was becoming too expensive without any of his gigs.

He said: “I don’t have my job anymore and now I only have bits of income, because my main job is stand-up.

“To pay for therapy was becoming too expensive and I just thought I can’t do it anymore, but then I thought, there’s nowhere people can get therapy for cheap.

Jason Byrne and Dustin the Turkey celebrate the Nicky Byrne Show’s first birthday at The Bridge 1859, Ballsbridge, Dublin
(Image: Gareth Chaney/Collins)

“So Mind Your Loaf is a concept where people can watch therapy sessions for 25 quid as opposed to 100 quid. I plan to have ongoing events. The idea is I’ll try to get more and more sponsorship so I can start selling the tickets for as low as a fiver.

“Some of the money goes to Alone.ie. I love old people, I hate the idea of all of them sittin’ on their own, that’s why I teamed up with Alone.ie.”

On his own mental health journey, he added: “I first went to therapy because of the stress of my job.

“It was so stressful, I was getting a release from meditation and exercise, but I needed someone to start guiding me in my life and therapy was great for that.

“Everybody should go to therapy, but millions of us can’t because it’s too expensive.

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“This year has been turmoil for me because my dad died, my job completely went. I could have just gone under the duvet and hid, but instead I went online, put out funny videos and exercises, I tried to keep myself busy.

“Therapists are so good because they teach you how to deal with your s***.”

Far from living the party lifestyle, he joked: “I never drink wine, if I was drinking I might have a Coors Light.

“The comics would always give out to me for being a s*** drinker.

“I’ve so much going on in my mind, it was like you’re going to exercise more instead of drink more, you’re going to do meditation.”

Jason said learning how to breathe properly from free diver Clare Walsh was like being on drugs. He revealed: “What I learnt was breathing is so relaxing plus you get off your banger for free as well.

“It’s like literally being on drugs. When you meditate and breathe properly you leave and go, ‘What was that’.”

Money has been extremely tight, he readily admits.

“I’ve made little or nothing since the pandemic started, I’ve had to do gigs in my toilet, I’ve been saying happy birthday on Cameo.

“That’s not loads of money, it’s only pittance, but because we get asked to do it all the time, if I could get paid for it was like too right.

“I’ve had to dig into all my savings over the past year-and-a-half, all my bills have had to come out of that so I’ve had no help from anybody.

“I came up with the quiz show in my toilet but that was nothing, like zero. It’s frightening, it’s not only me, it’s all the other comedians, lighting guys, tech guys, they’re all f ****d.

“Some of them can’t even afford their rent or mortgage any more, they’re going to the bank to have a chat with them.”

With gigs revealed for Vicar Street Jason is excited about the future: “We’ve a couple of gigs, I announced Vicar Street for next year.

“Sometimes I say, ‘I can’t do this any more, there’s no money coming into my house, I can’t keep this up’.

“But thank God I can connect with my therapist once a month. She calms me down and puts everything in front of me, it’s all about not panicking.

“I draw down from my dad a lot, 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 losing the plot’.

“His phrase was, ‘If you worry you die, if you don’t worry you die anyway – so why worry?’”

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