COMEDIANS almost invariably call upon their own life experiences in order to work up the material for a show.

And why should they discount the absolute jewel that is near-death? Jason Byrne certainly hasn’t. Indeed, it’s the focus of his new Fringe Festival show, Unblocked.

While about to board a flight, the Irishman experienced severe chest pains. He couldn’t believe what was happening. He was fit, cycled lots and watched his diet. How could he be having a problem with his heart?

Byrne went straight to a doctor and a series of tests eventually led to the performer needing heart surgery, in which he had three stents placed in his arteries. “Cholesterol was building up in three different arteries over many years, I didn’t know that because it was all hereditary.

“Because I was running hard, the blood was trying to get through a very tight area, and it just couldn’t get through there. It was just a feeling of pressure. My breathing was fine. I didn’t feel faint. But I had never felt like this before.”

He argued with his doctor, saying he felt the years of looking after himself had been pointless, that he’d be as well switching to a diet of hamburgers and Cokes. “He said no, that being fit had helped keep the cholesterol lower, and had it been higher then I would’ve hit the deck. No warning.”

Is there a sense of feeling re-born, that this is the chance to live a whole new life and a new re-formed version of Jason Byrne has emerged? “Ha! That maybe lasted six months. But then you just go back to being yourself, which is okay because I don’t smoke and barely drink.”

Byrne however feels the content of his new show will go down well in Edinburgh. “Well, you Scots love to hear about near-death and all that s***,” he says highlighting a clear and inarguable truth.

“But the truth is I never saw white lights or any of that stuff.”

He believes the Scots and the Irish are culturally connected. The Scots love a moan, like the Irish. On stage he talks about the Viking invasion of Scotland, but the Vikings giving up because they found themselves surrounded by all these “miserable b******s”.

And as always, there’s a real truth to his comedy. “I’ve done gigs in Australia, and the Australians say they’re like the Irish. Well, f*** off. They’re not like us at all. They drink beer in little pots for one thing.”

Byrne adds: “I try not to moan as much as I used to. Except on stage. That’s allowed.”

The Dubliner has sold more tickets at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival than any other comic. And along the way he’s won a Sony Radio Award in 2011. But he laughs as he reveals he’s often mistaken for fellow Irish comic, Ed Byrne.

“I once did an interview with FHM, and they ran it with a picture of Ed. I mentioned they had the wrong picture and they said no, they’d got it right. I added that if we were two Chinese guys there would be an uproar about being confused. But because we’re two diddly Paddies it’s okay.”

Unblocked, The Underbelly, Bristo Square, August 23-28.

Don’t miss: The Best of Scottish Comedy, the Stand Comedy Club, until August 28.

LUCY Porter is going down a new corridor in the direction of a rather different life. Or at least she knows many people who are. Her new Fringe show Wake-Up Call has a theme of mid-life crises. “The show was inspired by a number of revelations and epiphanies that have occurred to me over the last few years,” she reveals.

“I’ve worked out what makes me happy, when you should stop wearing leggings, where we should all retire to, why I’m so bad at driving, how to clean the filter on my washing machine and I’ve discovered the secret to Paul Hollywood’s enduring popularity.

“I’ve also been helping various friends through their midlife crises – all my pals with proper jobs have been falling apart recently.

“But I’ve been slowly disintegrating mentally and physically since I was about 12, so I can share what I’ve learned. I think of myself as the Midlife Midwife.”

Porter grew up enchanted with the likes of Dave Allen’s natural style. She admits to being a comedy nerd, but at 16 wanted to become a journalist and follow in the boot-steps of Kate Adie. However, at university she had a rethink. “I realised that everything I wrote seemed to make people laugh. I thought, let’s make a virtue of that weakness.”

Has she now reached a point of major adjustment? “I had my midlife crisis early – I was very premature, I was an early adopter of the midlife crisis, so I’ve already been through it. But there is always lots to learn.”

Wake-Up Call, until August 30,(not 15), the Pleasance Courtyard – Fourth, 5.20pm.