Dylan Moran: Monster
Show type: Tour
Dylan Moran has attracted a small army of fans in the past couple of years, thanks to his role as Black Books's crotchety anti-hero.
The new-found popularity has guaranteed him sell-out audiences on his current tour, and those coming among expecting the same choleric, indolent humour will not go away disappointed. It's not the easiest persona to pull of – for although it is one of the contradictions of stand-up that such a grumpy stance can provide for superb comedy, the comic has to strike a fine balance between maintaining his languid demeanour and emitting enough energy to keep the audience interested.
Luckily, Moran's got the likeability to pull off the unlikeable, even if he also has the tendency to extend his lulls to just beyond the point of discomfort.
'I'm going to start slow,' he forewarns the audience. 'Then things tend to coagulate. Then it all winds down.'
But it's not quite as sluggish as he makes it seem, for his sullen act is driven by pure belligerence - he hates almost everything and, by god, is he going whinge about it.
Though he emanates a 'couldn't give a fuck' attitude, to the extent of half-forgetting routines as he languidly drags on his cigarettes and quaffs his wine, Moran clearly does care about things; and care passionately.
After all, when you're persona is that of a misanthropic, reactionary Luddite, there's a lot to get angry about - making Moran an unlikely hybrid of Daily Mail reader and lethargic slacker.
It's Moran's strength as a comedian that he has formed such a cast-iron comic persona, able to twist everything to fit his worldview. At the extremes, he mocks that tunnel vision ('Yeah, let's go to war. We don't know these people'), but he's a lot more conservative, and Conservative, than most of his contemporaries. He also has a poet's gift for language, painting vivid scenes and articulating his growing disdain with brilliantly lucid analogies.
Things go awry, though, when that universe is punctured. After moaning that the Brighton audience was docile - no surprise given the laid-back vibe of the show - he asked, rhetorically, 'Any questions?'
Now to most people, that's just an ironic aside, but to a heckler it's an open invitation, and the rest of the show was blighted by a couple of incoherent, socially retarded gobshites who took to lobbing in their moronic questions with the split-second comic timing of a sundial. At night.
When this happened at the end of a sometimes sluggish first half, it was no disaster, but in the second hour, their ignorance derailed what was turning into a superb comic rant, as Moran stepped up the contempt for modern living.
He acquitted himself with some quick-witted put-downs, but a sparkling monologue had been traded for an adequate dialogue - and he must shoulder a lot of the blame for bringing that on himself. No wonder he gets so cranky.
January 26, 2003