Arts Q&A: Comedian Conal Gallen on John Prine, Paul Simon and James Clavell

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, comedian Conal Gallen

Conal Gallen's new stand-up show Back to Front will be packed with jokes, songs and a few surprises

1. When did you think about a career in performing and what were your first steps into it? I am truly an accidental performer. I went to collect a friend from an amateur drama rehearsal of a production called The Evidence I Shall Give, and was conned into taking part. Then in 1984 I started a band called The Odd Couple. We played together for four years and I then went solo. I was on the dole at the time, and they weren’t too pleased with the situation, so they sacked me. I have been a professional entertainer since then, mainly because I haven’t found a job yet.

2. Best gigs you've been to? Paul Simon in The Arena, Copenhagen, in July 2018; Andre Rieu at Vrithof, Maastricht, in July 2014 and John Prine at An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny, in September 2016.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band? Elvis Presley and The Cufflinks Band.

4. The record you'd take to a desert island and why? Gabriel’s Oboe by Ennio Morricone. It's simply the most beautiful piece of music ever. Close your eyes and drift away.

5. And the book? Shogun by James Clavell. My late sister, Peggy, bought it for me for Christmas many years ago. At the time, I thought very little of it. But then I read it and it was brilliant. I lost that copy and years later I bought another one.

6. Top three films? Forrest Gump, The Green Mile and Up.

7. Worst film you've seen? One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. I left halfway through, because I hadn’t a clue what it was about. To be fair, I was drunk when I went to see it. It’s probably a fantastic film.

8. Favourite authors? James Clavell, Walter Macken and Karin Slaughter.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team? Rugby (Ireland), golf and hurling (all teams, because it's such a skill).

10. Ideal holiday destination? Anywhere in America or Canada.

11. Pet hate? Insincerity. And people who think they are talented, but don’t realise they’re just lucky.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Rack of lamb.

Dessert? Apple pie, ice cream and custard.

Drink? Lager.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other? It wouldn’t be fair to pick just one. They say, if you have a friend, then you have a fortune. I am one of the wealthiest men in the world.

14. Is there a God? Honest answer? I don’t know. But if there is, do you ever wonder what religion he is? Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Buddhist.....

:: Conal Gallen will be taking his stand-up tour, Back to Front, throughout Ireland this winter and spring. Dates include Canal Court Hotel, Newry on December 29 and Belfast's Grand Opera House on February 19. For full tour dates and tickets visit

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