PJ Gallagher burst on to our screens 13 years ago in the guise of various different characters – from Jake Stevens to the Dirty Auld One – in Naked Camera, with a comic winning formula that hadn’t been seen since the days of Mike Murphy’s Candid Camera.
It catapulted the Dublin comedian into the public eye almost overnight, cementing his career on the comedy circuit, and introducing him to different mediums.
Just last year he starred in the Young Offenders, which won the award for Best Irish Film at the 2016 Galway Film Festival.
The film was such a hit on Netflix that the BBC commissioned a series, which PJ finished filming in Cork this summer.
You can also hear him every day on Classic Hits 4FM alongside Jim McCabe. PJ’s other TV shows include Meet your Neighbours, Next Week’s News and BBC’s The I Hate Show. He also participated in season 4 of Celebrity Bainisteoir, in which he managed St Patrick’s GAA Club Donabate.
Show is called ‘Dickhead’
This winter he’s touring with his latest show, titled ‘Dickhead’, and this Friday October 20 he will be in the Greville Arms, with stories as long as his arm about various mad scenarios that happened to him over the last two years.
“The title bears very little reference to what’s actually in the show itself.
“ I never used to title my shows, I suppose in the beginning nobody did, but now you’re under pressure to title a show, and it’s all ‘What’s the title of your show?’ type thing.
“So when I was asked, I just said ‘Call it Dickhead’, and I didn’t expect them to do it, but they did!
“It’s a series of short stories over the last two years, about stupid situations that happened to me.
“For instance, a disaster that happened to me in Blanchardstown, or something that happened in the shower, but I very rarely stick to the script, I tend to go with what happens on the night.”
The festival favourite regularly plays sold-out shows at Kilkenny Cat Laughs, The Vodafone Comedy Carnival and the comedy stage at Electric Picnic.
But starring in the award winning Young Offenders, a tale of two teenage boys who cycle 160km on stolen bikes pursued by police to find a missing bale of cocaine worth €7 million, was a new departure for him despite having graduated from the Gaiety School of Acting.
“Nobody expected the film to hit the heights it did,” he told the Westmeath Examiner last week.
“The series was all filmed in Cork and we just finished it there. I get to play a different character to the one I did in the film, so yeah it’s been great.
“I suppose it is a bit different for me but I did go to drama school 17 years ago, so I was a long time waiting for something to happen,” he laughs.
His characters for Naked Camera were based on people he worked with before the show, only built on and exaggerated to such an extent that they were somewhat “semi-believable”.
“They were based on people, or a whole bunch of people rolled into one person. It was great, it was new and it was fresh.
“We did try to do a fourth series of it but we were victims of our own success, and when we approached people nobody was having any of it. So we had to go back to RTÉ and give them their money back.
“Nobody had done anything like it since Mike Murphy’s Candid Camera 25 years before, but now everybody has a smartphone, when you turn on your TV it’s all hidden camera shows. We could never get that back now.”
Comedy, for all its rewards, its mega highs, can be very “isolating”.
“The payoffs are huge, it’s great to get a round of applause, and it’s brilliant when people come up to and tell you that you’ve made their weekend.
“But it can also be very isolating.
“I can pay they bills, but it’s much more than that, and it’s terrific when people enjoy themselves. There were years there where you couldn’t mention the ‘recession’ on stage. People come to the show, they want to switch off and get away from normal life.
“I’m looking forward to bringing the new show to Mullingar on Friday.
“I’d say to people to come along, I hope they have a great night, and if they don’t want to pay to listen to me go on, they can tune into the radio any morning of the week!”
• Greville Arms Hotel, Mullingar on Friday 20 October – tickets €20 on sale at hotel and at Ticketstop.ie.