Monday, May 26, 2008

Having a laugh with PJ Gallagher

PJ Gallagher considers himself a lucky man. Well, in fact what he said to me was "If you're making a living from this remember you're a lucky f**ker."

But we'll come back to that.

Photo taken from here

Probably best known for creating Jake Stevens - a whistler, a slightly dimwitted but enthusiastic and up-for-anything Irish character who recently went to seek fame and fortune in America and for his work on RTE's Naked Camera (running since 2005).

With his impending appearances at this weekend's Smithwick's Cat Laughs Festival (he's doing 6 shows) and fresh from Vicar Street earlier in the month, he's getting praise and new followers all the time.

I sat down with him recently (after I accosted him in a hallway) to talk about comedy. He was open, energetic, warm and friendly - a real pleasure to chat to.

On starting out:

"It's Jason Byrne's fault. I used to work with him in a warehouse and we'd always be slagging and messing. Jason started to get some gigs and saying I should too.

Then one day I'm on Dublin Bus and see his name on an gig poster - and mine after it. I rang him and he said - you've got 6 weeks to prepare 10 minutes, nothing you can do now. So I did it."
He's great friends with with Jason, often appearing with him - they're both managed by Lisa Richards Comedy (their blog is here, hiya John!) and is also a graduate of the Gaiety School of Acting.

On being recognised
"If I got a euro from RTÉ for every time someone whistled at me I'd be very rich indeed. Ah it's always nice to get the people coming up, saying hello, just having the craic. Luckily enough I haven't had any mad experiences."

On the internet
"Ah I'm mad into MySpace. Love it. (PJ's MySpace is here) Just love taking to people. I don't get onto it that much but it's a great way of getting feedback and seeing what's going on.
However someone has a profile for Jake on Bebo - it's not me but it's very good - so good that some of me own mates message me on it and are then surprised I don't get back to them. He's a genuine fake, doing a great job.
It's a pity though when you see stuff you're only working out up on YouTube. Some of the shows aren't as good as they could be. I don't mind the Naked Camera stuff but I'd hate to think that based on some mobile phone video that the show wasn't going to be good."

On doing gigs
"Ah it's a great laugh. It all depends on how well organised the gig is and the mood of the people but you can have great fun with the audience. You never do the same gig twice - the show evolves with the people and how different it can go. It takes preparation but the fun is worth it."

On Kilkenny
"The Cat Laughs is great. For me it's the festival. Always so much on, such great comedians and a great atmosphere. A real place where you can try stuff, you can have fun and get to meet other great comedians. Deadly fun altogether."
On Americans
"They're so polite. You could walk up to an Irish person and say "I lost my monkey" and they'd be like "Jesus, that's terrible! The poor monkey! Where did you leave it and what was it wearing when you saw it?" whereas the Americans would be completely dead-pan "I'm very sorry to hear that sir". A huge difference. I really enjoyed the time over there though."
On advising people thinking of starting in comedy:
"Most importantly don't fill yourself full of shit. It's a tough job and you've got to be polite with the people you're working with, with the fans and to remember to thank everyone.

Remember that if you do succeed to make a living you're a lucky fucker - many have tried. Keep positive though and believing in yourself without being cocky and you should be fine. Most of all enjoy it."

PJ mentions his support of the ISPCC's Childline. He heads off to do a great gig for Vodafone Bright New Sounds and then after borrowing sellotape to fix a light on his Honda Fireblade (true story) heads off, stopping to take time and pictures with his fans and supporters.

A genuinely nice guy, and a great person to have a laugh with. I'm looking forward to seeing him at the weekend.

PJ's page on the Lisa Richards Comedy Night has his upcoming gigs. Check it out.


  1. Have seen him a couple of times live. Really funny and he looks genuinely delighted to do what he does.

  2. Great post Darragh. You really have a knack for drawing people out!

  3. Absolutely brilliant post. Well done!

  4. @Anthony - he certainly gives that impression both on stage and off.

    @Deborah - thanks :) I like stories. I like people. They're important.

    @Darren - cheers sir. Appreciate that. :)