Tim McGarry on Cliftonville and the film that almost wrecked his marriage

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week comedian Tim McGarry

Tim McGarry

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

It’s all Damon Quinn’s fault. I met him and Michael McDowell at University. Damon wrote comedy plays and roped some of us in to helping him put them on stage.

We then started writing sketch shows for charity events and it developed from there. Our big break was getting a regular slot on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback in 1990 with the great David Dunseith.

In April, the Hole in the Wall Gang celebrated 20 years as full time professionals.

2. Best gigs you’ve been to?

Music – Elbow at the Grand Opera House.

Theatre – King Lear with Derek Jacobi at the Grand Opera House.

Comedy – Stewart Lee.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

Stiff Little Fingers, supported by The Smiths.

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

Hurt by Johnny Cash and Baggy Trousers by Madness, when I need cheering up.

5. And the book?

God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens.

6. Top three films?

Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Elf – the essential Christmas film.

7. Worst film you’ve seen?

I love my children so much I didn’t even abandon them in the cinema during the seemingly 12-day ordeal that was Avatar. And a special mention for the English Patient – it nearly broke up my marriage.

8. Favourite authors?

George Orwell, Paul Gamble and whoever created the fantasy comedy character Donald Trump. He’s hilarious.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

A mate of mine has taken me to a few hurling matches recently and I’ve started to get a real appreciation for what a superb sport it is but I’m still a football fan and there is only one top team in the world – Cliftonville FC.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

I’m not one for sitting on beaches. I prefer going to cities. So I’d be happy go to any of the big cities, New York, Berlin, Newry.

11. Pet hate?

Pets, pople with personalised number plates and people who drop litter. I’m not condoning violence, but kneecapping’s too good for them.

12. What’s your favourite:

Dinner? Lamb chops and asparagus.

Dessert? Ice cream from Rossi’s on the Antrim Road.

Drink? Guinness.

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

My wife. I've known her for 25 years.

14. Is there a God?

Yes, and his name is Tommy Breslin (former manager of Cliftonville).

:: Tim McGarry will perform his new show 1916 – Tim McGarry 'Goes Over The Top on August 20 at Belfast's Park Avenue Hotel as part of the EastSide Arts Festival ( before touring throughout Northern Ireland this autumn.

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