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Billy Magra: Gusto

Town Hall Studio

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Warning - contains references to sex, drugs, and sean-nós singing.

40 years after The Irish Times reviewed his one-man show as ‘extremely funny and most imaginative’, award-winning TV/Film producer/director/writer Billy McGrath/Magra re-unite as an OAPunk to re-visit the live stage with a new solo show exploring the funny side of life – including growing up with a stammer; saying NO to U2 and getting The Snip.

"Extremely funny, most imaginative, exceedingly agile and irresistibly charming" - The Irish Times

"There’s pioneers … and there’s Billy McGrath" - Hot Press

After managing bands Stagalee (Tralee) and The Atrix (Dublin), Billy McGrath opened up live music venues in Galway and Limerick in 1979/1980 and afterwards ran a successful PR agency with clients U2, The Chieftains, Rory Gallagher, Christy Moore, plus international acts for MCD and Aiken Promotions.

But at night he was stand-up Billy Magra and in 1981 The Sunday World hailed him as ‘Ireland’s best comedian’. In fact, he was probably Ireland’s ONLY stand-up at the time. So, just like he did with The Falling Asunder Rock Revue in 1976 - the 1st ever national tour of local Irish rock acts headlined by The Boomtown Rats – Billy invested in opening Ireland up to live comedy.

With Gay Byrne as key support, Billy performed on the Late Late Show and blazed a trail for others as he promoted new talent e.g. Kevin McAleer and Michael Redmond,

His ‘other half’ Billy McGrath meanwhile shifted career in 1985 and joined RTE TV later moving to London in 1988. Award-winning credits include TV/Film projects with U2; Italia ’90; The Pogues; Clannad, Michael Jackson: Pink Floyd and David Bowie. He directed videos for the record-breaking ROI soccer anthem Put Em Under Pressure and Clannad’s global hit Harry’s Game.

Taking a break from TV and Film in the early 1990s, Billy too, opened new comedy clubs plus promoted national tours, festivals and new talent e.g. Ardal O’Hanlon, Deirdre O’Kane, Dylan Moran, Barry Murphy, and Patrick Kielty. Same time Billy also handled national PR for the Galway Arts Festival plus co-managed Ireland’s 1st comedy superstar Sean Hughes. In 1998 he was appointed executive producer of New Programming and Talent in Ireland’s 1st commercial channel TV3 and in 2000 the 1st ever Commissioning Editor of RTÉ TV Entertainment where he backed new talent Ryan Tubridy, Pat Shortt and Tommy Tiernan.

In 2004 Billy co-founded Sideline Productions ( which produced creative and commercial hits across TV, radio, DVD and online. Secrets of Great British Castles is still available on Netflix across the globe.

For most of 2019, Billy produced and directed the feature length film Citizens of Boomtown – the story of The Boomtown Rats. It received its premiere at the Dublin International Film Festival in March 2020 and screened in the prestigious BBC Two Imagine slot a few months later

In 2020/21, during lockdown, Billy graduated with a 1st Class Honours MA in Screenwriting from The National Film School in IADT Dublin. Now in his 3rd Act, producer/director McGrath and writer/performer Magra re-unite to explore how a lifelong hippy punk can still rock the system and grow old disgracefully.

Duration 70 mins, no interval
Over 15s

Gary Cooke + Billy McGrath