A trio of Irish stand-up comedians bring Celtic humour to Hong Kong
Three Irish comedians are here to paint the town green, writes P. Ramakrishnan
Hong Kong comedy fans will have a bit of the luck of the Irish when three comics from the Emerald Isle, P.J. Gallagher, Keith Farnan and Andrew Stanley, take to the stage of the Punchline Comedy Club this month.
And the Gaelic proverb "when the tongue slips, it speaks the truth" is sure to resonate as the funny men put their spin on life as we know it.
Gallagher is perhaps the best known of the trio. As the star of television shows Next Week's News and Naked Camera he has found fans beyond Ireland. "My first TV series, Naked Camera, was a hidden-camera show set in Dublin and it was the best fun I've ever had," Gallagher says.
"I love making TV shows and being part of a team working together to make something. Stand-up comedy is great, but you are always ultimately on your own and hoping for the best. With TV you really get the feeling that you are building something and can always revisit it, I love that side of it. I also like the idea that you are performing to people in their own houses. It's like a personal little show that everyone can be a part of."
In his current show, two of the more popular characters have been a mentally unstable taxi driver and the wickedly fun "Dirty Auld One", an elderly woman who makes wildly inappropriate sexual innuendoes. It's obvious that Gallagher finds inspiration in both the marvellous and the mundane.
"My family is very funny, but they have no idea. I suppose the funniest people never really think they're funny and they can even get angry if you point it out to them," he says. "My mother is the funniest person I've ever met, mad as a box of frogs too, but I'd never change her.
"I've got no idea what my first joke was, but I'll bet it was me impersonating someone off TV from the '80s. Comedy was so much easier when I was six and the audience was my parents."
But humour can also come from dark places. Many comedians who have experienced tough times have managed to transform this into comedy gold, but Gallagher says he found a different route. "I think the day-to-day stuff is where the real humour is," he says.
"Everyone is doing something funny, and it's fun to try and find out what it is. I know a lot of comics who have great stories about personal triumphs and tragedies, but I want my gigs to be a break from all that. I like the idea of a stand-up show just being an hour of fun where you don't have to think about anything other than laughing."
When it comes to his heroes of humour, Gallagher names Jason Byrne as his "adopted comedy dad". "Jason Byrne is pretty much the reason I do comedy at all. He's the best live stand-up I've ever seen and turns so much material around every year that it's unreal. He started booking me for gigs long before I thought I was ready and coached me into being a stand-up."
With his Twitter feed dominated by photos of dogs and bikes, there's obviously more to Gallagher's life than funny business.
"Racing bikes and my dogs are my two first loves," says Gallagher. "I really only ever started telling jokes so I could buy bikes and parts. I love dogs a lot too, and they feature in my stand-up a fair bit. I actually really like all animals and I'm a vegetarian. I still eat fish though, because they are idiots. Kind of like fruit with gills."
Punchline Comedy Club featuring P.J. Gallagher, Keith Farnan and Andrew Stanley March 13, 8pm, March 14, 9pm, Tamarind, 2/F Sun Hung Kai Centre, 30 Harbour Road, Wan Chai; March 15, 9pm, Grappa's Cellar, B/F Jardine House, 1 Connaught Place, Central, all shows HK$320. Inquiries: punchlinecomedy.com