The art of Naked Comedy

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Irish comedians Jason Byrne and PJ Gallagher are old friends, Jason introduced PJ to stand-up persuading him to go on stage for the first time. Both comics are bringing their shows to the city this weekend. Jason brings his improvised comedy to UCH and PJ returns to stand-up in Dolan’s after a two year forced break due to stagefright.
Jason Byrne at University Concert Hall, February 7th

Jason Byrne and the Wheel of Stand-up

IT’S has been many years since Jason Byrne was onstage in Limerick and he has a few horror stories to share. A former booking agent had Jason arrive at the University of Limerick in the middle of summer to play a college gig without students, but his favourite memories are playing at the annual Rag Weeks in the University to hyper students.
“We used to do a stuff for the college Rag Week, we used to be dying on our holes, gigging in the courtyard. One year there was a bouncy castle right in front of us.”
Jason’s gig this weekend is in the more performer friendly University Concert Hall, but he still refuses to do things the easy way and is happy to perform by the seat of his pants. Called ‘You Name The Show’, he is not only letting the audience name the show but getting them choose the topics discussed as they are invited to spin the wheel of random nonsense.
Jason’s wheel of comedy is “a wheel with different categories and stunts and challenges.
“I know what’s coming up on it but what happens depends on the audience, how well it will go. They have to go rob stuff in the foyer and they have to get up on stage and do the odd stunt with me.”
Jason hands out whiteboards so the audience can give the show a name. He has a few favourites from the tour already, most of which are unprintable. ‘I thought I was going to Ed Byrne, Gutted’ made him laugh. A 15 year-old at a show in Middlesboro called his show ‘Fat Lady in Leggings, the Camel wants its Toe Back’ to much embarrassment from his parents.
Jason’s new TV show is ‘Snaptastic’, starting on TV3 this month. It’s a novel and original idea, making a show about people’s childhood photographs. Celebrities bring in photos from their childhood.
“We interview somebody about being kids. It’s a busy show.” Snaptastic will also have some stand up and games and sketches with comedy trio Foil, Arms & Hog.
“We live in a world of pictures now, facebook and Instagram. We won’t be able to do this show in ten years’ time. There won’t be embarrassing pictures left anymore. In the ’70s and ’80s our Ma’s took pictures and couldn’t see them straight away so they ended up in the family albums. It couldn’t happen today. People take pictures and delete them straight away if they don’t like them.”
After telling Jason that I am going to interview his pal PJ Gallagher later, he “helpfully” gives me this nugget of scandal to put to PJ: “Ask him about the time he served biscuits naked at a party in a flat in Clontarf”. And laughs.
Jason Byrne’s ‘You Name The Show’ plays at University Concert Hall this Saturday 7.

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PJ Gallagher tackles his pre-gig nerves

750px-PJ Gallagher
PJ GALLAGHER is returning to stand up after a break of two years. Onstage his high energy and hilarious stories have delivered the laughs at sold out shows throughout Ireland and at the biggest comedy festivals such as Kilkenny Cat Laughs and The Vodafone Comedy Carnival. Offstage PJ Gallagher has battled with stage fright since his first comedy gigs over 20 years ago.
An adventurous spirit, PJ has no fear when he races motorbikes, always follows through if a friend dares him to do something, had no worries when it came to inhabiting the now infamous characters in his ‘Naked Camera’ TV show.
These numbered the dirty old woman on Moore Street, Jake Stevens or the taxi driver character that infuriated media personalities including pundit George Hook and presenter Bill O’Herlihy.
PJ says, “I took two years off from stand-up. I’ve been particularly bad for years. I’d be putting the head down and ploughing on, not enjoying it to its fullest. Thinking like someone is going to shoot you, completely irrational stuff. I would focus on the one face that is not enjoying it as much as anyone else.”
PJ’s efforts to deal with this phobia is the subject of a one-hour RTÉ2 documentary entitled ‘PJ Gallagher’s Stage Fright: Reality Bites’. Shown last week, it is available on the RTÉ Player.
“The crew from RTE followed me. I was apprehensive at first, I’m glad I did it now.” The documentary reveals that the solution to PJ’s issues are basically breaking bad habits.
“I met a Professor of Stage Fright. Can you believe it, one of them exists?”
He also enlists the help of a neuro linguistic specialist and learns to contextualize his fears.
PJ has a new gig today and is loving it. He can be heard weekday mornings on Classic Hits 4fm presenting The Breakfast Show from 6am.
PJ Gallagher’s tour coming to Limerick could be his last time performing stand-up though he has rationalised his pre-gig fears and stage fright so he may return to the boards in time.
We finish our conversation with that bit of scandal that his pal Jason Byrne suggested.
So PJ, any comment on the time you served biscuits naked at a party in a flat in Clontarf?
“Who told you that? Was it Byrne? All I’ll say is, you got to look your best when guests come around. And thank God there was no such thing as a smartphone with a camera in those days.”
‘PJ Gallagher’s Stage Fright: Reality Bites’ is available on the RTÉ Player and PJ Gallagher brings his show ‘Concussion’ to Dolan’s Warehouse this Friday February 6.
As above, Jason Byrne’s ‘You Name the Show ‘ comes to University Concert Hall, Saturday February 7.