“We are at the cutting edge of the issue and I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, “ says Irish comedian Ed Byrne, talking to me about transexuality, chainsaw in hand, from his Essex home.

There’s a pun in there somewhere but when it comes to discussing gender politics Ed’s tone is serious.

“It’s a topic that has been in the news and having a lot of discussion of late especially with people like Caitlin Jenner, “ says the 43-year-old who will talk about the issue in his latest stand-up show Outside Looking In.

“People on both sides can get quite worked up. There’s the angry right-wing people who think anyone who is transsexual is a f**king freak who I just don’t want to have to deal with.

“Then there are feminists and people like Germaine Greer. As a bloke any time you get involved in those arguments you are reminded on all sides that you are simply not qualified to take part. Sometimes it feels like ‘could you all please decide what the right thing for me to think is?’”

The chainsaw is because he has been building a treehouse in his garden to watch the sunset from with wife Claire Walker, who used to be his publicist and his two sons five and three.

“There’s a branch in the way of the roof so I have chainsawed it out and broke my ladder in the process because the offending branch fell and broke it so I had to climb out of the tree, rather than phone my wife and get her to bring the other ladder.”

This all sounds rather like a comedy sketch and also rather rugged and manly. But Ed says he has grown away from being overtly masculine and ‘ladsy’ when it comes to his comedy.

Back when he was a single man about town he attracted attention for blasting Alanis Morrisette’s song Ironic - a routine that he now makes him cringe.

“I would steer clear of voicing that level of anger and annoyance as a man to a woman now. It just comes across as slightly ugly in a way that didn’t occur to me at the time,” explains the former horiculture student who’s enthusiasm for the outdoors has seen him climb Europe’s highest mountain Mont Blanc twice, appear on BBC shows Dangerous Roads and Volcano Live and present Dara & Ed’s Big Adventure, with best mate and Mock the Week presenter Dara O’Briain.

His newest show is a light look at what life is actually like as a comic and family man.

“I open the show with two stories about dying on stage, it’s a bit like showing up to a date and whining about your old girlfriend.

“Then I go on to talk about painful things that have happened during interviews when you run your mouth off, I was in New Zealand last year and on live national TV basically implied my wife and I were a one-night stand gone wrong.

“And I talk about the concept of slut-shaming, family, parenting and gender issues.”

The show wraps up with a story to do with his son wearing pink trainers.

“I’ve never tried to court controversy but more and more lately I’ve found myself getting wound up by regressive attitudes,” explains Ed.

“I think people are emboldened by social media and the ability to yell stuff into the void. People online define themselves by the very thing you wouldn’t bring up in company. If you were at someone’s house and didn’t know them particularly well and they asked ‘what’s your story’ the first thing you responded with wouldn’t be ‘well I’m a libertarian’. That’s exactly the sort of s**t you would steer away from because you don’t want to get into an argument.

“But today that is the first thing people want you to know, these labels. And its like you are wandering straight in arms swinging. It’s actually very anti-social, social media.”

This realisation has made Ed revise his whole attitude to Twitter recently.

“ I used to scroll through hundreds of messages from people saying I’m funny and not responding, instead focussing on the one person who said I wasn’t funny and replying ‘f**k you’. I realised that is a completely backwards attitude so now I try and do the opposite and ignore or mute anyone critical and say hello and thank you to people who are being nice.

“We get the social media experience we deserve. If you only respond to people being mean to you then well people will be mean to you.”

Ed, who has started writing a television sitcom, says the biggest downside to being a comedian, on or offline, is that people think they can say whatever they like to you and you just have to accept it: “People think if they call me a pr**k and I will find it hilarious.”

But it is still a job he loves.

“It is a great way of channelling frustrations and annoyance. Even when I herniated myself in May, with the Edinburgh Fringe coming up in August I thought ‘man this has got to be at least five minutes of material’.”

Unsurprisingly his must-have item on tour is his laptop and he relaxes before a gig by reading Twitter, watching Netflicks or playing video game Civilization V.

“If you are at my gig and I walk on stage and seem to be in a bad mood it’s probably because someone has just invaded one of my cities, “ he warns me.

We’ll bear that in mind Ed. And the fact you know how to use a chainsaw.

Ed Byrne's tour Outside Looking In comes to Shepherds Bush Empire on June 4, Harlow Playhouse on March 22 and Alban Arena on May 5. Details: edbyrne.com