One of Ireland’s most popular comedians, PJ Gallagher, is making a highly anticipated comeback with his first Irish tour in two years in the next few months, which will include dates across Dublin.
What started out as a hobby when he was talked into being the support act for his workmate Jason Byrne as he started his own journey in comedy has turned into an amazing career for Gallagher, one that has taken him all round the world. It also brings him back to Ireland over the next few months with his latest stand-up show, Concussion, which begins in Bray and Dalkey in a couple of weeks time, hits the Pavilion in Dun Laoghaire on February 21, and which will end with a pair of dates at Vicar Street on March 28 and April 17.
Gallagher has had a fascinating career over the last two decades, and is probably best known for his work on Naked Camera, which in itself has a great story about how it came about.
At the point of almost giving up on comedy altogether after 10 years on the circuit, Gallagher was offered a place on a speculative hidden camera show with RTE. Initially sceptical, Gallagher headed off on a sabbatical and when he came back from his trip across Europe, he heard that the project was still alive. He auditioned, and the rest is history, Naked Camera becoming an institution and making Gallagher a household name.
“The reason the show worked was that we didn’t know what we were doing. We all had to chip in and buy video tapes at one point, we’d spent all the money. We were winging it and that was what helped us – the director had never done comedy before, the sound guys came from movies, and I hadn’t a clue. The chaos of it was what it needed.”
In spite of its inauspicious beginnings, the show made a huge impact, something Gallagher only realised when he was out trick or treating months after the show had been on air for the first time.
“We did the show in April, and we got great feedback and audience figures were good. And then Halloween came around, and I saw people dressed up as me. That was when I realised it had captured people’s imaginations, and we got news then that we were going to do a second series.”
Another series came after that second one before it became clear that there was no-one in the country who hadn’t heard of Gallagher or his alter egos. At that time, he focused on his stand-up career, working almost exclusively in Ireland and continuing to cement his place as a national treasure, although he has played in China and Canada along the way.
This upcoming tour is the first time Gallagher has been back on Irish stages for a couple of years, but in recent months he has taken up the microphone in another environment, this time on Classic Hits 4FM with Damien Farrelly on their breakfast show, something he is relishing.
“The radio show is great. I feel like a student, it’s the beginning of a whole new project. I’m learning new things every day. I’ve been talking for a living for 20 years, but this has rules.
Of course, very little would stop Gallagher talking, and the new show that he is taking across the country is packed with his hilarious stories and anecdotes drawn from life.
“I can’t sit down and write comedy, I have to go out and get into trouble or have something stupid happen. I love talking to people and hearing their stories. There’s always a basis or a grain of truth in the stories somewhere.”