We talk to top comic ahead of Féile25 gig

Home for Patrick’s Day in the Big Tent

By Ciara Quinn

ONE of Ireland’s finest comedy talents is set for an eagerly-awaited home-coming as part of the Féile25 birthday celebrations.

The festival’s Big Tent will welcome Dundrum’s Patrick Kielty who – in a major festival coup – is set to headline the annual comedy night on Wednesday, August 7. As Belfast baked in shimmering heat, Patrick told the Andersonstown News that he was looking forward to returning to his base in the United States after the gig “to cool down!”

“Who knew that this heat wave would hit? It’s funny as the weather is now the news,” he laughed. “Two good weeks of weather have turned up for the first time in twenty years. For the past nineteen years and fifty weeks people, including my mum back in Dundrum, have been going ‘That weather is nothing but shocking’ but now it’s all ‘God, this heat, it’s roasting out there.’ It’s mad that it is making the news right now.”

Patrick hasn’t played Féile before thanks to his busy schedule, but he’s looking forward to finally making his debut.

“Thankfully dates were worked out and we could make it work this time. It’s fantastic to be playing as it reaches the age of 25. I’m really looking forward to the craic on the night.

“I think what is really great about festivals is that you find a lot of people in different towns and parishes that might not travel to places like the Waterfront or the Odyssey to see gigs or stand-up, people who might not go to wherever that person that they like is playing if it is outside the town. I’m hoping those fans will turn out on the night.”

Patrick’s been keeping a close eye on developments back home from his home across the Atlantic.

“I’m able to keep up to date with the news back home so the audience can  rest assured I’ve plenty of material to use on the night.”

And that material combined with the unique festival vibe is set to make it a night to remember.

“There is definitely a different type of atmosphere around a festival than an indoor arena. I did Electric Picnic down south last year. Basically, everyone is in a good mood before you start, the craic is great and I’m hoping for that when I get to Belfast.”

The seasoned stand-up performer and TV presenter spread his wings when he took the lead in the Marie Jones-penned one-man show A Night In November, which he performed to sell-out crowds at the Grand Opera House back in 2008. It’s an experience that he feels has helped him hone his craft.

“Sometimes we forget how much great storytelling talent we have in our part of the world. Working with Marie and Martin Lynch made my stand-up routines so much better in terms of how you deliver your material. I would really love to do some other stage stuff and, from my point of view, it would be a great thing to be able to move in a slightly different direction.”

Patrick said that throughout his 20 years in the business he has learned a lot from other pros.

“I was standing in for Steve Wright and Alan Carr as a presenter for BBC Radio Two  and you are kind of  lulled into a sense of, well, it’s just you and a microphone in this booth. But then you are reminded that there are nine million people out there listening to you, so your brief is basically play something good and you better be funny!

“I remember talking to Terry Wogan about it and he was like, ‘I see you’ve got the hang of it.’ I asked him what he meant and he just said, ‘Talk a bit of rubbish and when you can’t talk any more play a record.’”

The former Down Minors goalkeeper was able to put his sporting skills to good use when he recently did nets for the Rest of the World side during Soccer Aid.

“It’s a bit of an exclusive as I only found out that they have commissioned another Soccer Aid for next year, which is fantastic. I remember when I was 16 playing in Casement Park and Newry and to go from that, which were massive deals at the time, to walking out at Old Trafford, sitting in a dressing room with Luis Figo, Henrik Larsson and Maradona, kinda just looking around you. My claim to fame before that was that I was in the same Down team as James McCartan.

“I always remember how Henrik Larsson was just so down-to-earth. He was probably one of the nicest people I had ever met.”

As we scanned the Féile programme together, Patrick was particularly taken by the appearance of The Charlatans and Happy Mondays.

“I remember a couple of years back doing a show for Channel Four called Stand Up For The Week and we had Bez on from Happy Mondays. The idea was that we’d bring these guys out and put them in a chair and give them a bit of a tribute. Bez was the coolest dude there, but he scared the crap out of the producers as they were afraid he wasn’t going to turn up and when he did he looked like he’d been having a really good time somewhere beforehand.

“When I was at Queen’s University I remember I used to have posters up of all those bands. I was at Maysfield Leisure Centre to see The Stone Roses and I  remember catching a drumstick from Mani. The Charlatans and Happy Mondays, well, they were my era so it’s pretty great being in the same line-up.”

The 42-year-old identifies hosting the opening ceremony for the Special Olympics in Croke Park in 2003 as another unforgettable occasion.

“The whole of Ireland was hosting all these countries and to walk out on that stage in front of 80,000 people and God knows how many millions watching was such an honour. As a Down goalkeeper, getting to play in Croke Park used to be something special. It used to be pretty momentous when Down got to Croke – and now it’s a novelty. That night was nearly as good as walking out at Old Trafford with Henrik Larsson.”

Patrick Kielty – Home is at the Big Tent at Féile an Phobail on Wednesday, August 7 at 8pm. Tickets are priced at £15 and are available from Ticketmaster on www.ticketmaster.ie and from the Féile ticketline on 90 313440.

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