To mark 20 years of Hay Festival Winter Weekend, we are asking speakers and performers to answer 20 questions. Here's how comedian Jason Byrne responded...

1. If you could put one question to anyone on the planet, who would you choose and what would it be?

I would choose one person at random and ask them what would they ask the rest of the planet.

2. What was the last book you read and loved?

The book SHINE is a kinda self help book by the amazing Andy Cope and Gavin Oattes. Very positive and uplifting, a life changer of a book and it’s not the normal run of the mill self help book. It has a bit of bite to it.

3. What are you most proud of?

Myself! We never say that enough. We’re always proud of other human beings, but it’s time now top and be proud of ourselves.

Well bloody done Jason.

4. What was the best question you were ever asked in an event and how did you answer it?

I was promoting my childrens book The accidental adventures of Onion O’Brien the question I was asked by a 6 year old was….


That’s it, the question was cat.

My answer was ‘I think so’. They were very happy with that answer.

5. What one piece of advice do you wish you could give your 16-year-old self?

Never say YES unless you have the permission to say NO….oh yeaaaaahh nice one that one.

6. What's the most famous book you've never read?

The Bible. Thank God. Or, Sorry God, I mean.

7. What author or book do you think is most underrated? And why?

That is a very strange question. You’re asking me to find a book that hasn’t done well, therefore I most likely haven’t read it and therefore there is no answer to that question.

8. Which writers today will still be read 100 years from now?

Every human that ever got published will be read. So don’t worry if you’re not a massive name. Someone will find your book in a hover bargain bin in a charity shop in 2120 and sit and read it on their robotic lunch house which will last 10 mins.

9. Favourite word?


10. Least favourite word?


11. What is the first thing you wrote?

I wrote a short story in school. I was 13 years of age. It was about me going on a date dressed as John Travolta, with a hairy chest, dancing up to my chick. The teacher was disgusted so much that he made me stand up and read it out in front of the whole class. They all laughed. He was even more disgusted and told me to sit down. Prick.

12. What one thing should each writer know before they begin?

Strong characters and make sure your reader does not want them to die, also if they’re really strong, they can do what they want, even kill, and you’ll still be on their side… JOKER the movie, perfect example.

13. Where's your favourite place to write?

The West of Ireland, looking into any coastline with a nice shaggy dog or a dolphin at my feet in front of a warm fire. I don’t think the dolphin enjoyed it though.

14. Pen and paper, or laptop?

Start off with pencil and notepad. Then finally laptop.

15. Favourite book of 2019?

The Element – Sir Ken Robinson

16. Favourite book to read at Christmas?

I don’t read at Christmas. I’m too busy buying books for people, but I do love a good local history book.

17. What is the best book you've ever been gifted, and who gave it to you?

The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks. My Neighbour who lived alone, he was a great man.

18. What book are you most excited about reading in 2020?

The 2020 Guiness Book of World Records.

19. Best Hay Festival memory?

In a tent waiting to go on stage and sharing the space with Jon Snow, Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens. I asked what they were debating. Turns out it was blasphemy. Holy shit, don’t be coming to my gig then! Later in the evening I ended up in a cab with a very drunk Christopher talking to himself in the third person.

20. What are you working on right now?

My third children’s book The accidental adventures of Onion O’Brien yet another mystery for the five O’s, great book for 7-14 year olds. 

Jason Byrne presents his new stand up show Wrecked But Ready at Hay Festival Winter Weekend on Saturday 30 November 2019. Buy tickets here.