Pat Shortt: 'No doubt about it, some of the best craic you can have is at a funeral'
Tipperary-born Pat Shortt just might be the ultimate showman.
Not only has he wowed audiences alongside Daniel Radcliffe in the Cripple of Inishmaan on Broadway and enjoyed world-wide critical acclaim for his role in the 2007 film Garage, amongst other major film and TV roles, but he has also managed to keep his legendary live comedy shows on the road.
"It's all a great bit of madness," Pat, who is currently in the midst of a nationwide tour with his latest show 'Selfie', said. "Normally, I would open a show in Vicar Street but this time we started in Manorhamilton; small and low-key.
"We didn't get a date in Vicar Street until November, so we have been touring around the country and it has just been building and building."
The new show follows singing undertaker Mossey Burke and a host of new characters as he recounts his favourite funeral.
"It's been brilliant because I've been able to look at Irish people's attitudes towards funerals and the madness that comes out because there is no doubt about it, some of the best craic you can have is at a funeral. There is that saying that an Irish funeral is just like an Irish wedding except there is one less drunk person at it."
Pat is delighted to be back touring Ireland, having spent much of the last few years working abroad.
"I spent the last two years in London and New York on Broadway, so it is nice to be back," Pat explains. "Later in the year I'm going to Australia and America, but I am looking forward to having the bulk of the year here."
It is not just Pat's more serious acting work that has won him fans abroad. Foreign audiences also enjoy Pat's comedic take on Irish characters.
"It does translate, but in a different kind of way," Pat explains. "I look at the madness of the Irish psyche, that sense of frenetic energy that's in them and you heighten it up again. Somebody once described me as somebody who doesn't tell a joke, but performs it and these characters then come to life on stage.
"There are so many Irish people abroad these days and they recognise these characters and the others, even if they don't fully understand them, they love the madness and the energy of them," Pat adds.
"They do get it. You obviously have to be careful about how fast you speak and your accent, but I try not to compromise on that too much because that is an integral part of the characters too."
With so many strings to his bow, as a writer, actor, comedian, publican and musician, Pat's schedule is tight one.
"I am currently working on a script in London for a movie and I am working on a script for a project with the BBC with two other writers over there and I am also working on a show for RTE at the moment," Pat tells me without drawing a breath.
"You just designate time for the different projects and you have to be very disciplined and I am normally but the odd time I slip," he says.
"And nothing gets done, you just go 'F**k it. My mind is going to explode.' And then you get over that and go back to it again," he adds.
At just 47 years of age, Pat still has a while to go, however, his impending 50th birthday is already giving him food for thought.
"It is an interesting turning point because I am thinking of the future now and I never would have thought of the future ten years ago, in your 30s and into 40s you just rock on," Pat says.
"You start thinking about your energy levels and you start looking after yourself more, but you don't tend to look back a lot. You tend to move forward instead and think 'What do I want to do next?'"
Pat's comedy career began when he left art college to perform with Jon Kenny as one half of the D'Unbelievables. It is a time which he now describes as his 'apprenticeship in the stage craft'.
"We were travelling around the country doing shows, improvising and having the craic. I do think it's fantastic to go to college, but I came at it from a different angle and I learned in front of an audience why things didn't work because I fell flat on my face.
"When I started working on my own I always wanted to do film and TV, when working with someone else, like I was with Jon, it wasn't as easy to do what you wanted to do yourself because you had to consider your partner in the relationship," Pat explains.
And Pat is happy about how his career has progressed since his first big TV role on Father Ted, to Killinaskully and far beyond.
"I have been very lucky, when I am not doing films I am doing live work, so I have got a very full year," he says. "I am not an actor sitting around waiting for the phone to ring and that is because I create a lot of my own work."
So have the critics ever fazed him?
"What I do was never terribly popular. The D'unbelievables were never very popular with the critics until we disbanded and then they were saying 'Where are the D'unbelievables? There's nothing like them out there anymore.'
"We never got huge critical acclaim, so we kind of got used to that, but we had big audiences," Pat says.
"Killinaskully was the same, we got awful damning from the critics and one of the biggest audiences ever for home-grown Irish comedy.
"When it came to Garage then I got critical acclaim all over the world and from an acting perspective and the same with The Cripple of Inishmaan.
"So I have experienced critical acclaim as well, but I think it doesn't matter, without sounding like someone who is bitter." Pat says. "Because whatever happens I am still going to get on stage and it would also be silly of me not to remember that there are many people out there who love what I do."
Pat Shortt is taking his show 'Selfie' to the Dunboyne Castle Hotel in Dunboyne, Co Meath on May 23. For more information see: Ticketmaster.ie