Arts Q&A: Comedian Tadhg Hickey on Kevin McAleer, Chopin and Brexit

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week Cork comedian Tadhg Hickey

Tadhg Hickey has been making waves with his political comedy sketches on social media

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

I was a chubby, awkward kid, very unsure of myself. But when I'd make up weird stories at lunchtime, the other kids would laugh. And so began the development of the sickening ego you see today. I didn't actually get up on stage to do comedy until about seven or eight years ago.

2. Best gigs you've been to?

Kraftwerk at the Marquee in Cork 2018. Don't mind your ABBAtars, these lads are still throwing on the skin-tight tracksuits and doing it for themselves. I've no idea what I mean by that.

Saw Kevin McAleer in the Opera House a few years ago. Unbelievable. Mind-blowing. He taught a generation that you don't need to run around the stage and hit the audience with a flurry of punchlines to be incredibly funny and engaging.

Allow me a pretentious one: Mephisto Waltz by the Russian theatre company, Derevo in Edinburgh 2012. It wasn't comedy although parts were funny, just this off-the-wall dance/performance art thing. It was the best live event I was ever at. Went to see it a few times. I saw Stewart Lee in the audience a couple of times. Maybe I was just following him around?

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

Why are you forcing me to get married? If you insist, I'd like to make up my own band: Chopin (in his pomp) on keys/bass; Phil Collins (drums and vox); Miles Davis (bandleader/trumpet); Jim Corr (guitar/conspiratorial spoken word). That'll give 'em something to think about.

4. The record you would take to a desert island?

The Best of Chopin.

5. And the book you would bring to a desert island ?

How to Survive on a Desert Island by Jim Pipe.

6. Top three films?

Brexit: The Uncivil War. Benedict Cumberbatch is unreal as Dominic Cummings, and it gives a fascinating insight into how Britain was effectively tricked into taking, what has turned out to be, a potentially fatal decision.

Withnail and I: A drunken hubristic failed actor strives to be worshipped and adored. It's effectively my life story.

The Miami Showband Massacre. I know it's a documentary but I re-watched it over Christmas and it's just so brilliantly put together. Stephen Travers emerges as the eloquent, fearless hero that he is. Everyone needs to see this film.

7. Worst film you've seen?

Home Alone 2. The first one is class. But I just can't accept that after the hullabaloo of the previous year, the family wouldn't just play it safe and stay at home for Christmas.

8. Favourite authors?

Nietzsche (forget the books, all you need is wiki quotes), Steve Coogan and myself. I'm excited to say I've written a book that has been rejected by most of the top publishers in Ireland and many of the not-so-good ones too. Really.

9. Sports you most enjoy and top teams?

Cork hurlers, Celtic and the Irish international soccer team. I enjoy disappointment.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Belfast, Derry and Tyrone (I'm trying to cover as many bases as possible with the sucking up).

11. Pet hates?


12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Anything in the Palestinian restaurant in Cork (Cafe Izz). You have to go.

Dessert? I'm off deserts until the summer to shift these pesky holiday pounds.

Drink? Used to be Beamish stout before I developed a horrendous drink problem. *Not Beamish's fault. I like pineapple juice this weather.

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

Tied between Ange Postecoglou and Kyogo Furuhashi. I haven't actually met either of them yet, but they're two of the most important people in my life.

14. Is there a God?

Yes, he's from Cork city centre.

:: Tadhg Hickey will be appearing in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter Festival in May ( His podcast with @GoLoud will go out on Jan 31, with guests including Gerry Adams, Ian Marshall, Patricia MacBride and James O' Brien.

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