Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Friday People: Belfast comedian Neil Dougan

The 46-year-old is a comedy writer and stand-up comedian who will be appearing at the Belly Laughs festival in Belfast which starts next Wednesday. He lives in the city with wife Donna and kids Katie (17)

Home gig: Neil Dougan has vowed to cut down on touring

MY WIFE, DONNA

Donna and I knew each other for ages through mutual friends, but were in our early 20s when we met properly at a real ale event. I think she'd been asked to be the treasurer by a friend and couldn't get out of it.

She's been very understanding of my comedy career but for the last year I've tried to make sure I spend my weekends at home. For four years I was never here, spending my time on the comedy circuit in England. I had only two weekends off last year so I have now decided it is time to spend more time at home.

MY CHILDREN, KATIE, EMMA AND JACK

Being a dad is the hardest task I've ever had to do. Our kids have taken over the house. Six years ago we had an extension built and I made sure to include a little toilet that would be my space. No such luck. It's now the make-up room. I'm also a 'dad taxi'. The way it works is – I drive a daughter to the other side of Belfast, then when she gets out of the car I give her a tenner instead of her paying me a fare.

MY BEST FRIEND

Of course, I have friends from my school days but one from the comedy circuit is Martin Mor. He's from Coleraine originally but now lives near Manchester. It is great to have mates in England just in case I need someone to rely on when I am touring over there. Last year, I arrived at the hotel I had booked in to and discovered the roof had fallen in and they hadn't told me. Ricky Hatton was fighting in Manchester that night so there wasn't a vacant hotel room in the city. Luckily Martin stepped in and gave me a bed for the night.

MY PARENTS

We lost my dad George to cancer a couple of years ago, but thankfully my mum Ella (right with Katie and Emma) is still here. Last year, I was the support act for comedian Roy Walker's tour. I really wish dad had been alive to see that as he was in the same class at school as Roy. He didn't have much time for other comedians, but Roy was a bit of an idol. We're a close family; I have a younger brother Drew and an older sister Janine. Drew is probably my best friend.

WHO I GO TO FOR ADVICE

The person that I most sought advice from has passed away now. He was Fred Randall, a boxing coach who trained me when I lived in Bristol. I would phone him on Sunday mornings for a long chat and he never let me down.

My secret crush is ... Annie Lennox

I would love to come home and lie on the sofa and have her stroke my hair while singing There Must Be An Angel.

MY MENTORS

For my first year in comedy I was helped greatly by Patrick Kielty. When you are starting out you don't really know what you are doing and you need advice from someone with experience. Nowadays, though, Roy Walker is a great mentor to me as he's been in the business for a long time and knows all the wrinkles.

MY FANTASY DINNER PARTY

My first guest would be Paul Weller, whose music is the soundtrack to my life. The first record I bought was Going Underground and I'm still listening to his songs.

Next would be my comedy hero Billy Connolly (left). I've never met him and in truth I would be a little scared if I did, as I have built him up in my mind to such superstar status.

Then I would invite Sugar Ray Robinson, a boxer from long before my time and, in my opinion, the greatest who ever lived.

Finally, I would ask Valentin Glushko. He was a sheet metal worker imprisoned by Lenin, but who later became a great scientist, having educated himself in prison

He rose to become the head of the Russian space programme and was a fascinating character.

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