Arts

Arts Q&A: Jake O'Kane on Billy Connolly, Paul Simon and Lee Child

Irish News columnist and The Blame Game panellist Jake O'Kane is back on the road after Christmas with a new stage show. Picture by Mal McCann

1. When did you think about a career in comedy and what were your first steps into it?

Career? I’ve never looked at comedy as a career as my lack of a comedy career demonstrates. I simply wanted to give stand-up a whirl and when the Empire Laughs Back comedy club first opened in 1992, I did an open spot, which went well. As for the rest, I just keep turning up and seeing what happens.

2. Best gigs you’ve been to?

I saw Billy Connolly perform in the Olympia back in the 1980s. He did over two hours and was simply brilliant. U2's Innocence and Experience shows at the SSE in Belfast in 2015 and 2018 were amazing and I absolutely loved Paul Simon in July this year at the RDS in Dublin. It was one of those concerts I’ll always remember, as the first album I ever bought was Bridge Over Troubled Water, while on a school day trip to Dublin.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

I’ve long since realised I can’t dance – coincidentally, I talk about this malady in my new show. A local four-piece called The Renegades could tempt me to make a fool of myself on the dance floor.

4. The record you’d take to a desert island?

Am I travelling in a time machine to this island? No, I’d take my Spotify mix which contains everything from Elvis to David Holmes.

5. And the book?

If pushed, I think I’d take the Bible. Like the rest of my books I’ve only dipped into it and I hear it gets better the further you read.

6. Top three films?

The Exorcist – without doubt the best horror film ever made, it still gives me the creeps. The Godfather Part I, and It’s A Wonderful Life, a classic Christmas tale of redemption.

7. Worst film you’ve seen?

With two children, I’ve been dragged to films my brain won’t even allow me to remember the names of. I know they were animations and if I knew who the animators were, I’d break their fingers.

8. Favourite authors?

Philip Roth, Charles Bukowski and lately, I’ve turned all brain activity off and am happily trawling through the Lee Child cannon of thrillers.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

I grew up during the 1970s in what I believe to be the golden era of boxing, so I never miss when the local boys are fighting. The only team sport I’d watch is rugby, which is great as Ireland seem to be on a roll.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

With the arrival of the children, we’ve been to a holiday campsite in the Netherlands for the last number of years. It's the most family friendly country I’ve ever visited. We’ve spent countless days on bikes with the children riding tandem.

11. Pet hate?

Rudeness really rankles – please and thank you no longer seem part of our lexicon. As for people jumping a queue, well, all I’ll say you’d better not try it if I’m standing in front of you.

12. What’s your favourite:

Dinner? I love Christmas dinner with stuffing (gluten free, of course).

Dessert? Custard and tinned pears.

Drink? No alcohol. I’m on water with diluted blackcurrant juice these days.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

I’d have to say my wife. We’ve been together over 20 years and married 17. She knows the good, the bad and the very, very ugly.

14. Is there a God?

Of course there’s a God. Better still, he works weekends.

:: Jake O'Kane's Nobody Shouted Stop tour visits Ardhowen, Enniskillen (Dec 27, 28); Market Place, Armagh (Dec 29, 30); Strule Arts Centre, Omagh (Jan 5); McNeill Theatre, Larne (Jan 10); Millennium Forum, Derry (Jan 11, 12); Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey (Jan 17, 18); Braid Arts Centre, Ballymena (Jan 19); Island Hall, Lisburn (Jan 26); Grand Opera House, Belfast (Jan 31, Feb 1, 2); Riverside Theatre, Coleraine (Feb 9); Burnavon, Cookstown (Feb 14) and Downshire Estate, Downpatrick (Feb 16). Tickets from venues.

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