Monday 19 February 2018

'I left school at 16 and it worked for me, but I was very lucky' - comic PJ Gallagher

PJ Gallagher
PJ Gallagher

Sean O'Grady

PJ Gallagher has admitted he never would have become a comedian had he not dropped out of secondary school when he was 16.

The Dubliner did not complete his Leaving Cert and instead went to work in a warehouse, where he met fellow comedian Jason Byrne.

But he is not so sure youngsters these days should follow his example.

"It worked for me. I was very lucky, it was a different world. It probably wouldn't work for people now. The world has changed a lot," he told the Herald.

PJ Gallagher and Jason Byrne
PJ Gallagher and Jason Byrne

"For me, it was good because if I didn't do it I wouldn't have met Jason Byrne when I went to work in a warehouse for work experience. That's where comedy stated. It really was, in my case, the luck of the draw."

The RTE star is not sure what he would be doing now had he stayed in school.

"If I hadn't gone into that warehouse on that day I don't know what I would be doing, probably eating porridge in Mountjoy," he said.

While some comedians struggle with stage fright or performance anxiety, PJ has found writing material for his tours the most difficult part of his job.

"For me it's writing the material, trying to come up with the show. Telling the jokes and getting applause for showing up on time, they're the nice bits," he said.

"The hard part is sitting there on your own trying to think of something funny when it's just you with a marker and a load of paper. That's where the dog work goes in. But, when you get that bit done, sometimes it doesn't feel like work at all."

PJ is currently finishing a tour and will spend some of the summer filming the new The Young Offenders TV series, which will see him portray a different character from the film of the same name.

"I'm touring all over the place at the minute. After that, summer comes and I'm into filming The Young Offenders," he said.

"It looks like it's going to be a fairly big part. The character I had in the movie obviously can't come back because he's in jail, so they're recasting me as the headmaster of a school.

"I don't know how I'm going to play it that straight. I left school at 16 and now I'm going back. I hope the power doesn't go to my head."

PJ was speaking at the launch of the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund 2017.

Sports Against Racism Ireland received a grant from the Coca-Cola Thank You Fund in 2016 for its Diverse City Soccernites Young Leader Programme.


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