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'Stick a bullet in me if you're hard enough' - Patrick Kielty's challenge to thugs who disliked his political gags

 

Patrick Kielty. Picture: Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph
Patrick Kielty. Picture: Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

By David O'Dornan

Comic Patrick Kielty has told how he stood up to paramilitaries who didn't see the funny side of his jokes - and dared them to "stick a bullet in me".

Patrick's dad Jack was shot dead by loyalist terrorists in 1988 in their home village of Dundrum, Co Down, but that didn't scare him from taking on thugs who warned him to tone down his political gags.

He revealed: "I remember at a very early gig someone coming up to me and saying, 'Look, we like all that stuff, but the boys are not that keen on that other stuff.'

"And I was, 'What?' They said, 'You should be really cutting that out, that's not what you should be doing.'

"And I remember saying - it must have been teenage bravado, I was 19 or 20 - I said, 'Look, I'm an average comedian but if you want to turn me into Lenny Bruce, I mean, stick a bullet in me, you'll make a proper f***ing hero out of me and my body of work will be remembered for significantly more than it probably should have been.'

"And at that time I said, 'Come on guys, you're not in the business of topping comedians, I mean that's not good for business.' And I did say that and at the time, looking back on it now, it was a stupid thing.

"Let's be clear, there's many a brave sounding thing has been said by very stupid people."

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The 48-year-old was speaking to hypnotist Paul McKenna on his Positivity podcast and told him about his early career when he was hosting Belfast's first comedy club at the Empire.

He explained: "I was trying to do material that was relatable for the audience at that time, and in Belfast at that time there was an edge to it and there was a politics to it.

"And I suppose, looking back on it, there was a little bit of danger to it. And so that made it worthwhile saying.

"There was, because everyone was living it at the time and you didn't realise you were growing up in extraordinary circumstances.

"You actually assumed that was normal life and looking back on it now you realise, that was not normal at all. Yet everybody that was coming to that club, everybody that was listening to what I had to say or wanted to say, or was trying to say, were going through the same thing.

"You know, it's well documented that my dad was killed whenever I was 16 and he was part of all of that. He was one of hundreds, thousands of innocent people in Northern Ireland that lost their lives.

Patrick Kielty and Cat Deeley
Patrick Kielty and Cat Deeley

"And at the time I didn't realise the licence that that actually gave me. I just assumed that it made me part of a club, a kind of a terrible club to be in, but if you look at somewhere like Northern Ireland with a very small population, and everybody had either a family member or extended family member or a friend or knew a neighbour who had been killed because of the conflict there.

"And I misunderstood this at the time. I thought, this allows me to be part of a club, therefore I can maybe talk about this and people will accept it.

"What it actually did was it gave you a licence to go much further and to say things that someone who maybe hadn't gone through it was able to do."

Patrick also admitted that he would never have been a famous comedian if it wasn't for a teacher who he says "bribed" him into performing at school.

He said: "I was the guy who could do a few voices and whenever I was down the back of the bus in school going to football games, I could do a passable Billy Connolly and at that time Barry McGuigan was a big thing in Ireland and I could kind of do a half-decent Barry.

"I was down the back of the bus and I was just doing voices, but I wasn't the class clown, and I was bribed into being on stage by the teacher who ran the football team and he said, 'Look, if you don't do the Christmas concert, I'm going to drop you from the football team.'

"And I said, 'That's bribery,' and he said, 'Yes, but this is a private conversation, no one's going to find out, so are you going to do the Christmas concert? I need you to do impressions of teachers and stuff.'

"So I did it. If that gig had not gone well, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing. I wasn't one of those people who was, 'I am going to do this, I'm going to be a star, I have got a plan.'

Patrick now lives in America with his glamorous TV presenter wife Cat Deeley, and told how he was pushing their baby Milo in a pram in Santa Monica when some strangers gushed about how beautiful the child was - and then told him he "must be such a proud grandparent".

Patrick Kielty and Cat Deeley attend the 67th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for TNT LA)
Patrick Kielty and Cat Deeley attend the 67th Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for TNT LA)

He admitted he had not been looking his best after a few drinks the night before, but added that no one knows who he is in the States.

He joked: "Whenever I go out with Cat and I go to events with her, people have no clue who I am here. It's that thing where they are thinking, 'Ah bless...' They think it's Make A Wish. They think, 'Isn't she lovely? He clearly hasn't long to go - whoever he is.'"

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