Dylan Moran has become the first English-speaking comedian to perform stand-up shows in Russia.
The Black Books star presented two shows in St Petersburg, with his set being simultaneously translated via headphones for audience members who did not speak Russian.
Moran said the shows were a ‘a big thing because apparently nobody’s done it before’. He told the St Petersburg Times: ‘We just wanted to see whether it would work.. It might not be the best gig, but that’s not the point. The point is just: Can we make this work somehow? We’re at that stage, you know, very early days in the lab.
The paper also reported that Moran covered lot of local issues, including the city’s controversial new law banning ‘homosexual propaganda’ to imprisoned oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Moran said he made an effort to study what was going on in the city as: ‘I didn’t want to go on and be talking to myself; I wanted to be talking to people about the reality of their lives.’
However, in its review of the first night, the Times said the language barrier sometimes seemed insurmountable and concluded: ‘In the end, the cultural differences proved too much for the courageous comedian and he ended, visibly disappointed, telling his audience that they seemed to have become “disconnected”.’
Stand-up is a nascent artform in Russia, with the only offerings being ten-minute open spots as would-be comics struggle to learn what makes audiences laugh. Students are said to have particularly embraced the new genre.
The St Petersburg gigs were co-produced by Moran’s UK promoter Mick Perrin.
Perrin, who has also promoted Eddie Izzard overseas, said: 'It proves again that English-speaking comedy can travel.
'Dylan's following gig there was fantastically well received, and he has been
invited back to a much larger venue next year.
'We sold out the first show in hours and the following extra show sold on the day of release. There's a fantastic live comedy scene developing in Eastern Europe with an insatiably eager, young audience.'
Moran has also played two nights at an 800-seat venue in Tallinn, Estonia .