The hilarious Irish comedian faces the Maxim interrogation.
Your “Yeah, Yeah” tour kicks off in New York tonight. What do American audiences generally make of your act?
Well, it depends. I’ve played about eight states at this stage in different ways. As an Irish person, there’s a historical fascination with America: America is the default green and promised land for Irish people and Italians; that’s what we grow up with. You always had one eye looking across the pond and people would always talk about green cards and the lottery for visas and so on. It’s absolutely a part of our culture growing up. Everybody has a relative or knows somebody who moved there.
Pretty much everyone in New York has at least one uncle in Ireland.
You bet. In Ireland, you would grow up with these big beefy American people saying, “My grandmother is an O’Shaugnessy,” and that was part of the landscape – every summer, these people arrived. America is this incredible mosaic of immigrants, so people really want to be anchored in some kind of culture as well as the one they are living in. I’m thinking of getting to New York and saying, “It’s great to be here, it’s great to be home. My Grandmother was a Woltovitz.”
We’re still recovering from stuffing ourselves at Thanksgiving. Have you ever tried any of the traditional dishes?
No, but I’ve had some fantastically bat-shit crazy American food over the years. I was in Kansas with my pal and we went to this very ordinary looking bar that had food, and when we got the menu we were bent double laughing at everything on it. We were hungover and the first thing we did was order deep-fried tuna sandwiches battered with cornflakes, just because we couldn’t believe they existed or anyone had thought of that. I was deeply, deeply disappointed to find out they were delicious.
Speaking of hungover, you always appear to be slightly drunk onstage. How much of that is genuine?
I’m not drunk onstage, although I’ve done that a couple of times when I was younger. It’s partly just the way I talk – I talk like somebody in a rocking chair. I’m your 150-year-old grandmother.
In Shaun Of The Dead you played the exact opposite of your usual persona. What made them think you were the guy to play this uptight, straight-laced character?
I don’t know what was going on in other people’s minds. But Christ almighty, the whole point is to play somebody else. If you were just appearing as yourself you might as well be fucking Lassie.
AND NOW: THE SAME 10 QUESTIONS WE ALWAYS ASK EVERYONE!
What was the last thing you had to apologize for?
My temper. I should just get cards printed and hand them out every ten minutes. I try to avoid confrontations, but it does happen. I go, “What is this?!” too quickly and I’m not really that angry, but it comes out wrong.
What’s your favorite curse word?
There’s an Irish phrase where someone would be described as a “pain in the hole,” but also you’ll get people saying, “I can’t be holed.” It’s some sort of contraction.
What’s the worst hangover you’ve ever had?
There was one time I thought there was a monk in a cowl in my room, watching me. I’d see it out of the corner of my eye every half hour, it wasn’t good.
Did it say anything?
Nope. But that was the worst.
What was your first car?
I don’t know, I haven’t had it yet. I don’t drive.
Do you have a scar that tells a story?
My whole body is a scar.
What’s the story it’s telling?
“He didn’t stop eating in time.”
Do you have a party trick?
Are you aware of the American expression “Irish Goodbye”? It means exactly that.
Is that right? I’ve never heard of that. Yeah, Irish people give big hellos and very little goodbyes. Unless they’re female, and then they spend five hours talking in the doorway to the person that’s leaving their house.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever put in your mouth?
It’s really funny you ask that, because I’m writing jokes at the moment about how a lot of your life, the greatest times of your life, most of them come down to putting things in your mouth. Whatever those things were, be it drinks or cigarettes or food or body parts of people you admired. An awful lot of it involves putting stuff in our mouths. In a lot of ways I feel like I’m just an address for my mouth. I don’t know what the biggest thing is I’ve put in mine - there’s still time, I don’t want to say yet. There’s a few more decades.
What’s the one thing to remember in a fist fight?
Don’t get hit by the other guy. That’s what it all comes down to - much more important than hitting him is don’t get hit. If you carry that too far it could go terribly wrong, because then you might shoot him, but I would just say, however angry you are, after you’ve been hit, you’ll be bleeding and you’ll still feel angry.
Who was the last person to see you naked?
That honor fell to my wife. I tend not to look: Once you hit 40, don’t look down.
Finish this sentence: If I ruled the world for a day, I would…