Rory O'Hanlon

Rory O'Hanlon

A Dublin-based stand-up who first started performing comedy in 2006
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Irish comics storm Moscow

Dara & Co export stand-up to Russia

Dara O Briain is heading a contingent of Irish comedians trying to spread the concept of stand-up to Russia.

The Mock The Week host headlines the  Moscow Irish Comedy Fest, or MIC Fest, this St Patrick's Day weekend, which also features Dave McSavage, Aidan Bishop, Joe Rooney, and Rory O’Hanlon.

Western style stand-up is still a relative rarity in Russia, so The Moscow Times thoughtfully explained the concept for its readers: ‘Stand-up is usually defined as a performance by one comedian without a so-called "fourth wall" separating the artist from the audience, with both parties often feeding off each other.

‘But most important for a stand-up comedian is to understand the reason he is standing on the stage: He doesn't make jokes just for fun, but rather to express his own ideas. While widespread in the West, this form of comedy has appeared in Russia only in the last few decades, and has been slow in gaining a widespread following.’

Russian stand-up comedian Anton Borisov told the newspaper: ‘A joke is a medium to transmit your thoughts. For example, religion. You cannot talk badly about religion in a serious way. But as a joke, it is OK, and nobody gets hurt.’

O’Hanlon has already played two gigs in Moscow this week. He told Chortle: ‘It's very scary, as you’re performing in front of a completely different audience from normal.

‘But I’ve never met a more appreciative audience; it was the most positive feeling I've ever had from a crowd. Their reaction to somebody  coming to Russia to perform was amazing. They really want to hear people talking about their country.’

The company behind the MIC Fest, Stand-Up Original, previously organised several appearances by Dylan Moran and Eddie Izzard in Russia.

One of its founders, Igor Meerson says Russians don’t yet react to stand-up in the same way Western audiences do: preferring to applaud rather than laugh out loud.

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Published: 14 Mar 2014

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