Arts Q&A: Comedian Paddy McDonnell on Billy Connolly, Jason Manford and Fleetwood Mac

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

Paddy McDonnell – my wife put me up to doing a seven-minute comedy slot in the Pavilion 10 years ago

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

I always loved live comedy and comedy films. But it was actually my wife put me up to do a seven-minute slot in Belfast’s Pavilion Bar 10 years ago and I got the bug.

2. Best gigs you’ve been to?

Billy Connolly in the Waterfront Hall about 15 years ago. I got to meet him after; star struck is an understatement. Jason Manford at the Féile in Falls Park, where I opened for him. For an Englishman to stand in the Falls Park and get a standing ovation was brilliant to see. His ability to adapt to the audience proved he was a proper entertainer. And Jimeoin at Belfast’s Grand Opera House – a masterclass in comedy.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

Oasis. I just love them.

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

Fleetwood Mac – their music is what I cook too and it calms me down, so it would help with the panic of being stranded.

5. And the book?

How to survive on a desert island by Jim Pipe. I've already read it as I was going to gig on Rathlin once.

6.Top three films?

Braveheart – I watch it any time it’s on. Back to the future II – I remember my dad bringing me as a kid to see it. Stir Crazy with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor – they were comedy gold.

7. Worst film you’ve seen?

Murder Mystery with Adam Sandler was terrible.

8. Favourite Authors?

F Scott Fitzgerald, Mark Twain and David Walliams.

9. Sports you most enjoy and top teams?

Hurling without doubt is my favourite sport, both to play and watch. Over the years I've enjoyed watching Kilkenny but the Antrim boys are getting better each year. Football is a close second and Celtic is my favourite team. The past nine years have been a dream to watch. Finally, boxing. I was never any good at it but I've been spoilt with so many top talents from Ireland to watch.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Florida was amazing, something for the whole family. But for just me on my own it's got to be Donegal.

11. Pet hate?

Bad drivers and queues in shops.

12. What’s your favourite:

Dinner? Lasagne and chips.

Dessert? Pavlova.

Drink? Strawberry milkshake.

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

My wife Andrea because we have been through it all. She knows me better than anyone and when we get the chance to be alone we always have a laugh.

14. Is there a God?

I genuinely can't answer that. It's all very difficult to understand. I question that there is with the bad things that happen. Then miracles happen that can't be explained. If there is, I hope he likes my comedy or I'm in trouble.

:: Paddy McDonnell plays the Ulster Hall on November 26. Tickets are on sale now via Ulster Hall and

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