Ditzy Boomhaha answers your questions
...or you can just call him Dara O'Briain
Darby Brown, Dazzy B, Dusky Benderson.. Don’t think that I don’t spend all day running through the incredible showbiz career I might have if I just ditched my own name.
Right now, I think, I’m most often referred to as “That Irish guy - no not that one, the other one, the one who did Have I Got News For You” which works a lot of the time, but would look hideous on a poster.
Really, changing your name is about timing. Now would be way too late, and just confuse people, but any earlier would have been arsishly presumptious. “Someday, I will be enormously famous and people will chant my name, and I shall make it easier for the people, for I shall be known as… Ditzy Boomhaha”
No, I’m stuck with the real name. And while I would be at least 37 per cent more famous if my name was something like Jack Dee or Jo Brand (or practically anyone else apart from Omid, really), Dara is who I am (violins rise and Hershel Krustovsky hugs his father).
As for the pronunciation, I’m flattered that people make the effort to get it right over here. The UK being as multicultural as it is, people always make the effort, and I thank them for that.
In case I come across as too humble about this, though; in Ireland, where studying the Irish language is compulsory and public life is filled with people called O hEochagain and Seoighe and the like, people get it wrong constantly and to my face and it drives me up the fucking wall. I mean constantly. And unapologetically. Someday I will be dragged off some taxi driver screaming “What’s my name, Motherfucker? What’s my name? Say O’Brien just one more time…”
When did you first realise you were funny? Sharon Flanagan
Always a terrible question to answer because there’s no way of replying without starting with the words “I first realized I was funny when…”.
I first realized that I wanted to be funny when I was in university doing college debating and realized that stand-up was actually what I’d be doing all along. I only got close to being funny seven years into the career, just before my fifth Edinburgh, and I’ve been, at best, intermittently funny since, but still working on it.
That’s not answering the original question, of course, because I don’t have an answer as good as Ardal O’Hanlon. Once when he was asked “when did you first realise you were funny” he said “The Government sent me a letter when I was 11”
What were the circumstances leading up to your first ever gig? Yad Barzinji
Some friends set up a comedy/variety/arts club in Dublin, in a reastaurant called Chubangs (don’t look it up, it got shut down for having a toilet that opened into the kitchen).
The nights were a weird mix of aspiring comics (including Jason Byrne, not the night I was on) singer-songwriters and poerformance artists (including one who arrived wrapped entirely in tinfoil, hopping down the street – not Jason Byrne). I nervously walked around for four hours before the gig, which lasted for all of 4 minutes, with me holding the microphone stand nervously for the length of it.
History doesn’t recall any of the jokes, apart from something to do with mixing up US senator Bruce Morrison and Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson, to hilarious effect. It’s a piece of material I have since “rested”.
Which comedians have most influenced your act over the years? Who really makes you laugh? Nick
At the start I was practically an Eddie Izzard tribute band, because his videos were the greatest things I had ever seen. I still do too much Umming and ehhing, but that’s just me now, and my own silly verbal tics, rather than any fault of Eddie’s. More recently, Lewis Black does this explosion-of-anger thing which I may have nicked as well.
Do you think it's possible to make a living doing stand up in Ireland or is moving to London the only serious option? Terry Frisby
Obviously enough, there will always be more gigs in the UK than in Ireland; which is the incredible opportunity to learn the trade, day in, day out, that the circuit gives you here. Plus the fact that London is one of the great world centres of comedy with so many incredible people to work with.
Don’t forget that we get all your telly as well as our own, so that Chris Morris and Stephen Fry, say, mean as much to us as they do to you.
I couldn’t resist the chance to move when it came up five years ago. But is it necessary? Not really. Ireland is small but comedy fans there are numerous, devoted and enthusiastic.
Irish audiences will come out for their own, in an enormous way. Loads of theatres full and big DVD sales and whereas, previously, the Irish broadcaster RTE was given lots of hassle about not using local talent, there are now lots of opportunities to get on the telly at home if you’re a comic.
If you’re Tommy Tiernan, who is revered in Ireland (and rightly so) then you can make a living in the way that, say, Little Britain, makes a living (y’know, maybe enough to put a little deposit on a house, go for a nice meal out now and again, that sot of thing).
And there are a number of acts with huge theatre tours and DVDs and telly shows doing very well in Ireland, thank you very much, with no need to drag their arses around the circuit here for Christ knows how long to get to something even approaching that same level of recognition and success. And good for them.
What are the main differences between playing to a TV audience and doing a regular stand-up gig; and are any aspects/differences frustrating? Adam Samuels
Telly studios are not “your crowd”, and you can’t relax with them as much as can a theatre crowd. There’s loads going on, with the cameras and the lights and all so the environment is unnatural. It’s not just you either, especially on the sort of shows I do, so there’s always a few other voices coming in.
You have more control in a proper gig, because it’s just you and you edit in your own head as you go along. In a studio however you have a whole support team, often including writers and the inherent “glamour” of the situation.
In a live gig you talk to the audience directly, whereas in a telly environment you’re often performing “side-on”, like when you tell jokes to a chat show host but really want the crowd over your shoulder to supply the laughs.
Very different environments requiring different sorts of skills then.
One big difference though. Do nothing but live stand-up and you’ll transfer to a telly studio pretty easily.
Do nothing but telly studios and you’ll pretty much die on your arse live.
Well, Rory last did Mock The Week in February, so he wouldn’t mind if I spent the bullet on him, given that he’s left the show a while now. Topical!
The rest is man-management. Hugh needs food and affection to work, but Frankie needs to be kept mean. Nothing for him.
When last did you tickle an old person? Graham Brechin
Interestingly, people don’t generally tickle older people, tickling works downwards in age and status only. Although you can tickle monkeys and rats. But not yourself, because you can’t surprise yourself. All this I learnt from “Laughter” a book by psychologist Robert Provine, which I heartily recommend for silly bits of trivia like that.
I myself am quite ticklish, and have been tickled a number of time both in public and onscreen by Ed Byrne who knows how ticklish I am. I often wish he would fuck off and stop doing that, the prick.
What gave you the idea to do the comedy sketch with Natalie Imbruglia Torn? it was fantastic, so want a copy! Sarah Farr [Who we think has somehow confused Dara with Secret Policeman’s Ball sensation David Armand]
Why thank you, it is a routine I am very proud of. Not enough people are doing musical mime these days. I usually keep it for my third encore, so keep a close eye out for that on the DVD, it’ll come at the very end of the show, just up after the titles, just keep watching, yeah that’s it, just you keep waiting for it, any second now…
What did you think of the rumour about you that was created during Mark Watson's 36 Hour Show? Ben Williams
This was the rumour that Lucy Porter punched me so hard, I fell backwards and seriously damaged my knee, the rumour that found its way onto at least one comedy website of record and my Wikipedia entry?
Yeah, not bad, but it’s still got some way to go before it beats the IMDB biog which included ‘Dara collects vintage Coca-Cola cans’ and ‘Dara flies Aer Lingus for free’ . I have been asked about them in at least 15 separate interviews in the last year, and at stage at least one of these facts turned up somehow in MY OWN PRESS RELEASE.
Now, that’s a rumour.
Dara O'Briain, your name is an anagram of "I doin' an Arab", have you ever had sex with someone from the Middle East? Adam Haycroft
Doing a quick headcount now… No.
My name is also an anagram of ‘IRA brain D.O.A.’ which is actually the name of a top quality eighties thriller starring Richard Gere as the MI6 man forced to live in the mind of a vegetablised Provo bomber in order to save the kidnapped secret daughter of Princess Di.
The clock is ticking!
It’s Face Off! Meets Blown Away!
It’s IRA Brain D.O.A.!
How dull is it reading lots of questions by people too cheap to buy your DVD? Alex Collier
The reading of the questions wasn’t dull, but grinding out the answers, Jesus…
Did you notice how short they got towards the end?
Dara O'Brian's DVD Live At The Theatre Royal is out now. Click here to order from Amazon.
And well done to Alex Collier, Graham Brechin, Louise Lee, Adam Samuels and Ben Williams who receive signed copies.
Next week, Bo Selecta creator Leigh Francis will be answering your questions, with copies of his Bo In The USA DVD up for grabs for the best. Use this form to submit your question: