The shape I’m in: Brendan Grace, comedian

PROSTATE cancer is no laughing matter, but that doesn’t stop comedian Brendan Grace from making wisecracks about it on stage.

The shape I’m in: Brendan Grace, comedian

“I do it deliberately to make men aware of the importance of getting checked. I’ve always been a great believer in the old saying: a stitch in time saves nine,” says Brendan, 64.

Though his father’s generation didn’t have the opportunity to get advice about prostate cancer —“I don’t think they ever wanted to know”— he believes it’s high time for men to open up about the condition.

“Former RTÉ newsreader Michael Murphy’s very moving interview [in 2008] about prostate cancer brought a lot of people to their senses,” he says.

Brendan and GSK Ireland recently launched a public health awareness campaign aimed at men aged over 50, encouraging them to see their doctor if they visit the bathroom more than once during the night, which can indicate benign prostatic hyperplasia, a condition caused by enlarged prostate.

Around one in three men will experience the urinary symptoms associated with the condition in their 60s.

“It has nothing to do with cancer it has to do with getting it checked,” says Brendan.

* See: www.morethanonceanight.ie

What shape are you in?

I’m in good shape. I’m a diabetic but you deal with it. You try to live as healthy and as active a life as you can. I exercise. I live in Florida, so swimming is an everyday thing.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

My healthy eating takes place in America. My slightly not-so-healthy eating takes place here. When I’m in Ireland I’ve a tendency to go for the curries and the fish and chips and the potatoes.

In America, I would have a lot of salads, vegetables, fish and chicken. I’m not a lover of red meat.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

A 99 icecream. I’ve a habit of biting the end of the cone off and sucking the ice-cream through it. I love that. And I like to push the flake right down. It’s a very rare treat.

What would keep you awake at night?

Using an iPad probably. My wife Eileen says there was a time when the hot spot in the bed was not the iPad.

How do you relax?

I don’t read, I write a lot. I love writing cards to people acknowledging letters I get. I answer every communication by hand. Some people go to the golf course, I go to the post office.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

George Hook, the late Paolo Tullio, Jean Byrne and I would throw in President Obama and his wife Michelle for good measure.

What’s your favourite smell?

I love anything to do with Christmas, from the turkey, the stuffing the tree and the log.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

Not really. I’ve been living with it for 64 years. It always seems to work. If you asked my wife, she’d say lose the head.

When is the last time you cried?

I could tear up at stories I hear about people or certain movies. My favourite movie is Trains, Planes and Ambulances.

I cry laughing but during the closing scenes of the movie I just break down. It stars John Candy, who I would have loved to have met.

What traits do you least like in others?

I can’t stand people who are not honest about themselves and try to be someone else. I can’t gel with someone like that. I’ve got to know exactly who I’m talking to.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I make noise when I’m eating my dinner. And when I’m out in a restaurant I take whatever bread is left over, meat or stuff I can feed to an animal or bird. Everywhere I go, a robin follows me. I believe it’s my mother.

Do you pray?

Regularly. I’m a great believer in the Hail Mary. My mother was devoted to Our Lady. I feel very close to god. I don’t have to be in the graveyard to speak to my parents Chrissie and Seamus, I speak to them every day.

What would cheer up your day?

If the Taoiseach Enda Kenny came to me and made me a promise that there would be no more trolleys in hospitals. I’m sick of hearing these horror stories about people waiting for treatment.

I don’t blame the hospital staff. I think hospital carers nurses and doctors are the most wonderful people in the world. It’s the administration that sucks.

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