Comedian Paddy Raff: If I had an accident I'd prefer an ambulance to essential oils

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week, comedian Paddy Raff from west Belfast

West Belfast comedian Paddy Raff – If you can find time for pints, you can find time for the gym
Gail Bell

1 Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

I have two alarm clocks that go off around 7am – Ronan, who is five and Clara, aged two. My wife, Kim, and I get up, get them fed and dressed, then get our son to school and our daughter to one of her grannies so Kim can get to work and I can go to my meetings/write/do admin/prep for shows.

2 What might you eat in a typical working day for...

Breakfast? Cereal. With selling out the Ulster Hall and SSE Arena recently I can finally eat Crunchy Nut cornflakes without feeling guilty. If I sell this second SSE gig out, I might even get a box of Special K with red berries. You gotta have a dream.

Lunch? I’m all over Uncle Ben’s microwave golden rice at the minute. I stick tuna, chicken or chopped chorizo in, add soy sauce and Nando’s peri-peri salt. It’s like a Poundland paella.

Evening meal? I usually make spaghetti, stir fry, chicken korma and salads, soups or stews, depending on the season.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Kind of. I don’t count calories, but over the last year I’ve been eating a lot healthier and cutting out chips and bread pretty much altogether. I used to not need to watch what I eat as I played a lot of football, but I tore my anterior cruciate ligament a few years ago, so can’t burn off as much as I could before.

Paddy Raff as his alter ego, Nigel

4 Best meal ever?

Probably a four-course lunch at the Savoy about 10 years ago. A friend of mine, Mark (who actually plays Jarlath on stage, my character Nigel’s pianist friend) insisted we went when we were on the rip in London. He’d been the organ scholar at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square and had eaten in the Savoy a few times. I was dubious at the time – I still thought scallops were the thin potato slices my granda used to fry up for us as kids. I managed to wangle a tour of the kitchen while we were there. Amazing experience.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

I can’t say no to a chicken tikka kebab at the end of a night out.

6 Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

Not really. What I’m doing now, cutting out bread and chips and that kind of thing, is the closest I’ve been to a diet.

7 Do you take health supplements?

Yes. My wife is a health and fitness instructor, so she gives me my vitamin supplements every morning. We rarely get colds, so we’re putting it down to taking these measures.

8 How do you relax?

I play guitar and go to my shed/man cave and try to play songs that aren’t in my live comedy set. I love taking the kids out for walks or to the park and not checking my phone for an hour or more.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple. I get to meet up with friends once a week for a few if I’m lucky, but I don’t drink in between times.

10 Stairs or lift?

Do escalators count as stairs? If not, then lift every time.

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

Yes, I go to Bodypump two or three times a week – it's a barbell training class. I usually try to do a 15-minute run before or after the session. If I can’t get to the class, I’ll do my own weights/cardio in the house when the kids are in bed. I’ve also been doing rehab exercises since my ACL reconstruction surgery in January.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Marry a physical activity coach/fitness instructor.

13 On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?

I’d say I'm a seven. I would love to get back to football but wouldn’t want to risk injury again as being able to stand up is kind of in my job title now.

14 Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

I’d probably try yoga and meditation, but I’m not into homeopathy. If I get hit by a car, I’d prefer an ambulance showed up rather than someone with some essential oils.

15 Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

I played football non-stop, every lunchtime in school, but didn’t enjoy 'organised' sport, so it's a mix of memories. I played for Donegal Celtic as a kid and left after a few seasons because I’d rather play 'headers and volleys' than give up half my Saturday to get thumped by Rosario or Star of the Sea, as exotic as they sound.

16 Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

I stopped playing sports in my mid-20s because I was working and socialising a lot. I foolishly agreed to take part in a charity football match and played so bad that people thought the match was to raise money for me. I decided to get fit again, so I started going to my wife’s Bodypump class and began training so I could be reunited with my long lost first touch.

17 Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

If you can find time for pints, you can find time for the gym – as advised by my brother-in-law, a very dedicated gym-goer.

18 Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life?

Mr Motivator. I remember him on TVAM when I was a kid and I saw him on television not long ago and he still looks amazing.

19 What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep?

On average, I’m in bed for midnight and don’t close the laptop until 2am.

20 Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

Yeah. You only get one crack at life, so I tend to try things out and take a gamble and it’s working out well so far for me, like with deciding to have a go at comedy last March. It was daunting and a step into the unknown, but it’s turned into a career. You have to throw caution to the wind sometimes and not be afraid to fail.

:: Paddy Raff is appearing in two Christmas shows at the Limelight, Belfast, on December 13 and 14 (both sold out) and at the SSE Arena for his Me, Myself & Nigel show on April 25 2020. Tickets on sale via Ticketmaster.

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