Dylan Moran

Dylan Moran

Date of birth: 03-11-1971
Winner of the best tour category at the 2012 Chortle Awards for Yeah, Yeah
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© Andy Hollingworth

Dylan Moran: Grumbling Mustard

Gig review by Steve Bennett at Just For Laughs, Montreal

‘You come here on your knees to be saved,’ Dylan Moran proclaims to the Montreal audience, his tongue firmly in cheek. As if such an apparently shambolic man could be anyone’s Messiah.

Yet like any good priest, he at least sounds like he has all the answers, even if he has none.

He’s world-weary enough to know life is so much bullshit before the inevitable decline towards death’s cold embrace. Yet however poetically he calls out that bullshit, all remains futile. Nihilism is the one true path, and that offers no succour. Such is the philosophy that gives context to his everyday frustrations and musings on how his body is gradually failing.

He’s given up alcohol, which is quite the move for someone whose whole shtick has been built on ‘in vino veritas’. In North America, that statement of abstinence gets a round of applause – so different from when he made the same revelation among the Brits at the Latitude festival earlier this month – but Moran punctures their affirmation:  I didn’t ask for your support,’ he harrumphs grumpily.

Yes, his new life has given him new energy and more hours in the day – but who wants that? His lifestyle overhaul even took him to see a personal trainer, but that only served as another bleakly hilarious reminder of his flabby form.

But most of his opprobrium is directed at other people (‘my enemy,’ as he collectively calls them) and their peculiarities – pointing out the stupidity of everything from cat ownership to being in love to more specific reference points such as Jesus and his ‘passive aggressive’ disciples and Donald Trump, to span the entire moral spectrum.

While the latter might not be much of a hard target, Moran’s jokes always punch with an elegance and eloquent that belies his shabby, crushed demeanour. The image of how he sleeps compared to his angelic wife, for example, is funny because it is so precisely detailed with perfect analogy.

From a firm observational base, he builds up poetic thoughts, decorated with lovely strands of surrealism that put an unexpected oddness into the simplest thought, just so you can never quite predict where he’s going.

That his train of thought has no tracks also comes with a slight detriment, however. It means there’s no sense of direction to the show, which makes it less satisfying than those that build towards a climax. But such structure would undermine his stance that life is random and irritating. 

As always, his vivid mental images are accompanied by equally weird real images, as his drawings are projected on the screen behind him. Not a propros of what he’s taking about - he’s so loose with a script how could they be? - but adding an extra level of randomness to a show that’s ultimately about the futility of thinking life is anything but chaotic.

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Published: 29 Jul 2018

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