Shape I’m In: PJ Gallagher, comedian

PJ Gallagher loves being a breakfast show presenter on Classic Hits 4FM. He began anchoring the show alongside Damian Farrelly in November.

“It took me by surprise. I’ve been doing night work as a comedian for 20 years and suddenly I’m doing morning work. I get up at 5am. That’s not as hard as going to bed at 9pm — I have a 10-year-old nephew and the two of us go to bed at the same time!”

He recently revealed he has battled with stage fright since first launching himself onto our screens with Naked Camera. He spoke about it on an RTÉ2 documentary. “I was doing a show at the Everyman in Cork in February and people were saying ‘I never knew you had that — you’d never know it to look at you’.”

PJ’s paralysing fear is almost gone. “Yes, I get the nerves that you should get, but that dread and total fear — worrying so much you can’t eat – is gone. I’m on tour and it’s the best tour I ever did — all I do is turn up and perform.”

PJ — who’ll be 40 next month— married long-term girlfriend Elaine Stewart in 2013. “Married life’s pretty much the same as single life when you’ve been with someone a long time — just more Chinese food and less hassle.” Children, he says, aren’t on the cards. “We’re too busy. We’ll stick with the two dogs.”

The comedian is an ambassador for the 2015 An Post Cycle Series. “I’m delighted to be back as an ambassador again — cycling has become a big past-time of mine. I’m always out on the bike with friends and we have great craic. It’s one of those sports that can be tough and challenging, yet people of all ages can take part.”

n The five-event series — a joint initiative between An Post and the Irish Sports Council — takes place between May and September. See further details, including how to become involved, on www.anpost.ie/cycling.

What shape are you in?

Round! Between early morning starts and evening gigs, I haven’t been cycling as much as I like. I cycle in and out of the [radio] station but as far as 150km spins go, I’m out of practice.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I wake up with carbs and sleep on protein. In the morning, I have Weetabix. I eat a big salad during the day.

In the evenings if I’m going to cycle, I’m not that strict on myself. I’d have fish with salad or a sweet potato dish that Elaine does.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

I love Chinese food! Lately I’ve been hitting the chipper after gigs on Saturdays.

What would keep you awake at night?

I’m not a bad sleeper these days. But coming up to the weekend with live shows, there’s a lot to think about when you want to get the show right. It wouldn’t be nerves keeping me awake though, more anticipation.

How do you relax?

Cycling’s big — getting some head-space when I’m out on the motorbike. And sitting at home with Elaine.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Just me and a bunch of random dogs — I love dogs.

What’s your favourite smell?

The salt and vinegar smell you get when you pass a chipper. The best smell in the world is when you open a dinner box with double base scampi and chips from The Fishwife in Cork.

What would you change about your appearance?

If I changed anything, everything else would look weird around it. Like if you fix a dent in your car, you don’t see the new panel — you see everything else that’s wrong. I’d leave well enough alone.

When did you last cry?

Watching Forest Gump over Christmas — and also when Dublin won the All-Ireland.

What personality trait do you least like?

Greed — I can’t stand it. I hate rudeness too. There’s no excuse for it. It doesn’t get you anywhere.

What personality trait do you least like in yourself?

Six months ago, I’d have said I wish I didn’t have so much anxiety about things I love to do. I still worry a lot — I do too much looking into the future instead of focusing on the present.

Do you pray?

No, I don’t — I don’t believe in anything. I was dead before I was alive and I’ll go back to that. I get comfort from that. The idea of staying alive for more than 100 years! I’d be too tired for it. I like the idea that one day the lights will go out. That way, you never waste the day.

What would cheer up your day?

I like hanging around with family and with my dogs. Going for a walk on a nice day really cheers me up.


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