The comedian and actor on dancing with his mother to Ray Charles, the power of Seamus Heaney’s poetry and how Richard Pryor showed him his future

Music was like a totem pole for us, growing up in Belfast in the 70s. My mother was a singer and a dancer: she had a beautiful voice, and if there was ever a chance to get on the dancefloor, she’d take it. She loved Motown, but especially Ray Charles. I still love a ballad with a driving beat. And I still love to dance. My dad didn’t dance, so my mother was always dragging me on to the dancefloor with her when Ray Charles came on. I got used, at a young age, to clearing the dancefloor with my mother; putting on a show together. That was our bond. People would stand around clapping while we danced. That was my first public performance.

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