herald

Friday 24 May 2019

I would love to have been a stand-up comedian but I don't have the nerve for it

Given that I'm Ireland's official 'celebrity with epilepsy', I'm the patron of Brainwave and we're having our massive annual fundraiser shortly in the form of the Horse Show Ball.

As well as hosting the black-tie ball next month, I'm also on the committee so I've been having plenty of chats with organisers over the past week.

I've had epilepsy since I was 16 but it always astounds me how much mis-information there is about it. People still don't really understand the condition properly.

I remember that when I first spoke about it on the Ryan Tubridy Show, the Herald picked up on the story and were great about highlighting my condition. I know people think 'how can you do a radio show with epilepsy?' But the fact is, I've been doing radio for the past 15 years and in all that time, I've only had one seizure during the show.

There was someone around to cover for me and it was really no big deal. I take medication for my condition every day and the last time I had a seizure was over two years ago.

condition

When it comes to triggers for an attack, everyone is different, it really depends from person to person. The most common things to avoid are alcohol, stress, late nights and even strobe lights but mine are entirely random and have nothing to do with any of those things!

A few years ago, Brainwave got the word out that they were looking for a prominent face for the organisation and I was the only person to come forward so I'm now their ambassador.

I like to think that other sufferers can look at me and see that they can be successful and lead a normal life too with this condition.

I'm filling in for Gerry Ryan on his 2FM morning show while he's off for four weeks so I tried to take it easy last weekend. One of the girls in RTE radio had got married so a big gang of us from work went out to her afters which were held in the Dunboyne Castle Hotel in Meath and it was a brilliant night, not too late thank God.

The previous day, I went to see Tommy Tiernan and he's always great. He was full of fire and brimstone and he does a part in his routine where he's deliberately controversial because it's almost what people expect now. He's nicely dangerous.

Last weekend, I took my three kids out for the day -- Ben (10), Holly (4), and Max (15 months), -- and that was really nice. Then on Sunday, I went out to Avoca and went for a wander around the waterfall by way of a little mini-detox.

On Monday, I was up at 6.30am. It wasn't that much earlier than when I normally get up at for my afternoon show on 2FM as I normally get around six hours sleep. I got to the office after 7am and we started lashing through the newspapers and prepared for the show ahead.

But to be honest, I had no intention of trying to be like Gerry and re-create his show. It's kind of like we're doing the same show but at a different time slot. When we first sat down with the bosses, they just said 'do what you normally do', so we didn't do any of that 'what's in the papers' stuff and steered clear of too much current affairs stories. We wanted it to be all quite surreal.

creepy

We brought Keith Barry on the show and he did the most mind-boggling trick with a punter on the phone. We had around 20 or 30 people lined up as volunteers and he had to guess, at random, what movie star they would like to bring to which restaurant, alongside the meal they'd have. We had this housewife on from Tipperary and he accurately guessed she'd love to eat with Michael Caine in a place called Chez Hans, and she'd want to eat scallops!

The hairs went up on the back of my neck and we were all going 'this is just creepy'.

We also did this hilarious feature called 'Ireland's Loneliest Phone Boxes' where we rang Eircom and got the locations for all the phone kiosks which only had one call made from them in 12 months.

We picked one in Tory Island in Donegal and we called it live on air to see if anyone would answer it. Then we got all these texts in on Tuesday to say a Today FM show were doing the exact same thing -- but we had the idea first, honestly!

That evening, I went to a comedy gig in the Project called Dead Cat Bounce. They're performing at Edinburgh shortly and they were great.

On Tuesday, it was more of the same antics with the phone boxes and that evening, I went to see the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight, which I absolutely loved. It was mind-blowing. I stayed up late updating my blog after that and reviewing the movie. As a result of being so wrecked, I stayed in and took it easy on Wednesday.

Then on Thursday, we brought in Phil Jupitus from Never Mind the Buzzcocks as he's part of the Carlsberg Festival that's running in the Iveagh Gardens and he was hilarious. I'm really looking to going to the festival this weekend, I'm particularly looking forward to seeing Ardal O'Hanlon, Des Bishop, and David O'Doherty.

I'm a big comedy fan, I would love to have been a stand-up comedian but I don't have the nerve. I know it sounds odd but I find taking over the helm of a show like Gerry that's listened to by more than 300,000 people every day less frightening than standing up cracking jokes in front of 100 people.

When it comes to live comedy, there's the whole worry of hecklers and concentrating on having to be sharp, funny and spontaneous -- all at the same time. I think it's best left to the professionals.

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