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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-08-17 05:43:41

tatler man pj gallagher


Pe op le


I suppose I am attracted
to stuff that scares the
shite outta me. You know
you’re alive when the
devil is biting on your
arse, though, don’t ya?


PJ Gallagher should be put in a museum – not because he is a fossil, you
understand, more for the fact that he’s one of a kind. While the Dublin-
born comic boasts an extremely impressive CV, Gallagher is surprisingly
humble and refreshingly self-deprecating. And with a passion for anything
with two wheels, the gentle 40-year-old is more a hillraiser than a
hellraiser, as Domhnall O’Donoghue recently discovered…

There are many who argue that The Sound of Music Portrait photography:
is one of the best films ever to be put on celluloid. Marek Hajdasz
However, while there’s much to admire about the high jinks of Maria and her little
army of warbling wonders, it’s recently become apparent to this writer that there’s
one big omission from its Oscar-winning score. When the songful sister waxes lyrical
about her favourite things as a way of comforting her seven frightened charges –
raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens and that sort of thing – she clearly forgot
to add a certain Irish comedian to the list. For there is nary a person who can make
you feel immune to the perils of violent thunderstorms as much as PJ Gallagher.
Not only does the funnyman look like a human teddy bear with cheeks you
just want to squeeze the bejaysus out of, the former Naked Camera star also
possesses the humility and unpretentiousness of St Francis of Assisi. Quite an
unusual attribute for someone who’s in the business of being liked.
“I don’t know if I am funny – that’s for other people to say! I have a go!” the
40-year-old confesses, almost blushing at the idea of having to speak highly of
This surprising vulnerability is difficult to reconcile with someone who has had
huge success across so many platforms, including stage, television and, more
recently, radio.
“You always doubt yourself,” he explains. “I mean, that’s the whole thing about
being a stand-up – if you thought you were funny, you’d just get up there and
blame the audience all the time. I suppose it makes you work harder – and you
always have to work harder.”
Since Gallagher’s self-confidence and tenacity might not have been enough
to catapult the Marino man on to the national stage, his many fans should buy
former ITM interviewee Jason Byrne a pint the next time they bump into him, for
without the assistance of the Snaptastic star, Gallagher might still be breaking a
sweat in Lighting Dimensions, the warehouse where the young teenagers first
crossed paths.
“Jason practically forced me into doing stand-up comedy – he was too nervous
to do it on his own,” Gallagher reveals. “I didn’t really know what it was, and he
kept saying, ‘You come with me and we’ll do a gig together and it will be great craic!’
“The truth is, comedy found me – I didn’t really pick it. I was quite happy to
work away in Lighting Dimensions and fixing lights and banging around and doing
whatever was going. But it was the excitement of Jason bringing us to gigs and
then his career taking off and him giving me support slots, that’s how I started.
So he’s to blame – Jason caused all this trouble!”



A woman threw a “Once, this woman walked straight up to
set of knickers up the front of the gig and flashed – that was the
on to the stage… maddest gig ever. And another threw a set of
and then after the knickers up on to the stage…and then after the
show she says, show she says, ‘Can I have my knickers back?’
‘Can I have my And I’m like, ‘Wha?’ And she’s like, ‘I know, I
knickers back?’ wouldn’t normally ask but it’s a part of a set!’
But I didn’t have them – she must have assumed
Once convinced, Gallagher still only saw The place “where you start and it’s probably that I’d picked them up and was going to walk
the “goofing around” as nothing more than where you’ll finish as well”. But it was a certain around town with them!”
a hobby and a way for the lads to afford a few RTÉ hidden camera show that capitulated the
tipples at the weekend. “You’d get like 50 quid Dubliner into the big league, Naked Camera. But watching her man get so much female
a night and we were going, ‘Amazing! We never attention isn’t the real reason Gallagher’s wife
have to pay for booze again!’ First aired in 2005, the popular series ran Elaine stays away from his shows.
for three seasons and captured the imagination
“I’ll never forget Tommy Tiernan saying he of the public – something that cannot always “She’s seen too many of them,” PJ jokes.
got an agent and we thought it was the funniest be said for the comedy output of our national “When she did, there’d be a room full of people
thing ever; what would I need an agent for broadcaster. laughing and they’d be like, ‘It must be gas in
– we’re all making £100 a week. That was the your house,’ and she’s like, ‘No! It’s not! It’s not
first time I remember anyone breaking out and “When we started, we just wanted to make like this at all – this is one hour!’”
thinking they could make a job out of it.” something that wasn’t shit – ‘the odds are
against us here but let’s just try and not be While Elaine might not be doubled over at
While opting for a precarious life on stage shit’,” Gallagher recalls. “So when it ended up her husband’s onstage escapades, the way in
rather than enjoying the security of a steady job being what it was, it totally surprised us. which she allowed herself to be whisked away
might leave most parents blowing a fuse, to Las Vegas a couple of years ago to tie the
Gallagher threw caution to the wind when he “I remember the first Hallowe’en – it was knot does reveal that she, too, lays claim to a
realised that there could be more to this lark MySpace at the time – and people putting up mischievous sense of humour.
than a free knees-up. pictures of themselves dressed as Jake Stevens
for Hallowe’en and shit. And I remember going, “Our families are nuts, so the idea of putting
“There was just a time when comedy got ‘This is just weird, it’s so odd.’” them all in a room together is just crazy – why
really big, around the ’90s,” he recalls. “Jason would you pay for that? I mean, I can watch
was huge and Tommy was huge and RTÉ So popular was Gallagher that when the series mixed martial arts on the TV for free! We just
started showing an interest in everybody, and came to its natural end, RTÉ commissioned wanted to leg it.
people started getting these chances to make a spin-off, Makin’ Jake, which followed the
pilot shows and people started going, ‘Right, adventures of his popular character attempting “I suppose the idea was, we wanted to have
there might be something to this, you know! to make it in the United States. a romantic marriage and not just a one day
I better start taking it seriously.’” kinda thing and it’s worked out mostly. We still
Gallagher’s success on television translated get on and there’s no dramas.”
Soon after, Wicklow Street’s celebrated into hugely popular runs in some of the most
comedy venue, The International Bar, became prestigious venues in Ireland, including Vicar The main change to the couple’s relationship
a home from home for the upcoming star. Street. But, as you might expect, there are often is Gallagher’s new position overseeing revelries
funnier antics taking place off stage than on. on Classic Hits 4FM’s breakfast show alongside
Damian Farrelly, an engagement that requires
the funnyman to be up with the lark, Monday
through to Friday. As such, Gallagher and his
wife are currently like two ships in the night.

“I go to bed at a time that most eight-year-
olds go to bed. I mean, I’m in bed at 9 o’clock
and Elaine finishes work at six or seven. When
she wakes up in the morning, I’m gone and we
could go three days in row and the only time
we see each other is when we’re asleep. So that
makes it hard.

“Sunday is the only time I have off – and
see if I even pick my phone up, she’s like, ‘Not
today! No work today!’”

It seems, however, that being a stranger to
his better half is currently the only downside
to his new career as a DJ; and even though
Gallagher admits that he is still finding his way
in the studio (“I still look at the machine and I
go, ‘I’ve no idea what this is!’”), the comedian
is convinced that he has finally found his true

“If you ask me what I prefer between
stand-up, TV and radio, radio wins hands down
because it just feels so fresh. Twenty years
of night shifts and then you find out you’re a
morning person; it takes you by surprise.

“It’s so nice to get a chance and an
opportunity to do something new. I mean, I’m
doing stand-up for 20 years this year and it’s 10
years since we did Naked Camera. I’m now 40,
and I get a chance at this age to do something
new and that feels brilliant.”

While Mrs Gallagher might have accepted


her husband’s rather inconvenient schedule, I don’t know if IIMAGE: STEPHEN MCCARTHY / SPORTSFILE
one would wager that she might be a little am funny – that’s
less open to the idea of entertaining a certain for other people to the Irish Sports Council, has the comic as one
ménage à trois. say! I have a go! of its ambassadors. It has been running since
2009 and over 73,300 people, from beginners
“Me and Damian didn’t really know each “I suppose I am attracted to stuff that scares to keen enthusiasts, have taken part to date.
other beforehand,” Gallagher explains. “We the shite outta me,” he admits. “You know
were just put together; it was like an arranged you’re alive when the Devil is biting on your “It’s a brilliant event – it’s so much craic,”
marriage! And now, we’re slowly in the process arse, though, don’t ya?” he grins. “It’s much more of a social event
of falling in love.” than anything else. It’s funny because you’re
This impressive approach to identifying a dieting and you’re training to get yourself ready
Just because Gallagher is having a sordid vulnerability and tackling it head on, regardless for months beforehand and then on the actual
romance with radio and his co-host doesn’t of how daunting it is, possibly stems from day, you’re just cycling about with cake in your
mean he has turned his back on performing Gallagher’s life-long love for motorbike racing. mouth and chatting to everyone and not taking
live, though. In fact, he recently finished an it seriously at all!”
acclaimed national tour of his first show in two “Since a kid, I had this obsession with Evel
years. Called Concussion, it was also the first Knievel – watching these old videos of him The 2015 An Post Cycle Series got under way
time he had taken to the road without stage in Wembley Stadium and watching him fly at the start of May in Sligo with routes in Clare,
fright holding the comedian to ransom – thanks through the air and landing on his back and his Meath, Waterford and Cork planned over the
to his successful documentary PJ Gallagher’s hips cracking but still standing up and being all coming months.
Stage Fright. American and going, ‘I’m walking outta here!’
That led to me getting a BMX and I’d jump So when Gallagher isn’t travelling the
“I was nervous making the documentary over my buddies and build ramps in the back highroads and byroads of Ireland, whether as
and I wasn’t able to hide that,” he explains. garden. I think that’s what eventually led to me a cyclist or a touring comedian, or when he’s
“But it actually worked – I turn up to gigs now racing motorcycles. not assisting the morning listeners of Classic
and am really able to enjoy them. Eating and Hits 4FM to shake off their slumber, he is busy
all! I was laughing only last Saturday; I was “Winning a motorbike race is as high as concocting his next move – possibly a project
just about to go on stage and I’m sitting there, you’re ever going to feel – there’s nothing in that seems to have something of a bite to it.
sucking on a Diet Pepsi and eating a Subway the world that ever feels like that because the
and I was thinking, ‘I could never have done margins between disaster and euphoria are “I’d love to do something on dogs. I’d love
this before.’ so narrow, so when you pull it off, it’s the best to do something like that with the ISPCA or
feeling in the world.” Dogs Trust or something. And there’s a market
“And all I did was just change the questions for it; I mean, Irish people love dogs. I’m out
I asked myself – that’s literally all it is. Whereas In his more buoyant years, the physical toll with the dogs every day; I’ve two – two mental
before, I’d be saying: ‘What if this is the worst that such an interest took was “a small price to cases. I’d love to do something like that. I’ll see.
gig in the world?’ ‘What if this doesn’t work?’ pay”, but now that the comedian has entered They probably won’t let me but I’ll see.”
‘What does it mean if I die on me arse tonight?’ into his fifth decade with familial and work
Now, I’m going: ‘What if this is the best show?’ commitments to contend with, he has been In the unlikely event that such a project
‘What will happen if we rip it tonight?’ That’s reluctantly forced to pull the breaks on his fails to get the all-important green light, all
all you have to do – it just took me a while to perilous hobby. Gallagher needs to do is recall that song that
figure it out. could have been written about him: “Raindrops
“Now I’m getting up every Monday morning, on roses and whiskers on kitten.” And just
But if anybody embraces a challenge, it’s I can’t ring in and say, ‘I can’t come in anymore like the seven children during that menacing
Gallagher. His back pockets are filled with stories – I was fluttering around on me bike and I broke thunderstorm, he won’t feel so bad. ITM
about overcoming fears that compromise his life. my legs again!’ So you have to access risk
differently. I kinda hate that about myself too – For more information
“I was going away on holiday with Elaine I never really gave a shite before,” he concedes. about An Post Cycling
and we were getting an Iberia flight to Spain. Series, visit
That very day, there was a picture on the front For now, Gallagher will have to get his kicks
of one of the newspapers of one of the planes from a less daunting sport: cycling. The An Post
we were getting on going on fire. And I got sick. Cycle Series, which is supported by An Post and

“I then thought: ‘Right, I’m going to take
control of this – this isn’t happening again.’
And a week later, I was out in Newcastle
aerodrome learning to fly, sitting behind the
thing going: ‘Aghh!’ But it worked and my fear
of flying is gone.

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