Dara O'Briain: Migrant Worker

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

Dara O'Briain is surely one the most reliable comics to grace Edinburgh, year on year producing some of the strongest pure stand-up around. It's almost redundant reviewing him, so certain is it that his show will shine ­ but that would mean missing out on one of the few guaranteed treats on the Fringe.

This year is no exception. O'Briain's not one for the big idea, but the loose theme of his 2004 show is to celebrate the joys of growing older, merging into a vague, well-meaning message not to fall into the intolerant, reactionary mindset that so often comes with advancing age.

There's some irony in this. Just a few short years ago, O'Briain made much of how he was so much younger than he looked. Now, at 32, he's dismissing the superficial vanities of youth in favour of the more settled life.

The experience and knowledge he's so quickly acquired gives him the opportunity for plenty of digs at what he's left behind, such as the miseries of backpacking which are exposed in a splendidly contempt-fuelled routine, even if the pay-off is unfortunately similar to a Stephen K Amos line.

This is a more observational show than we're used to, a slight shift away from the anecdotal style he has previously favoured, with a political message about Ireland's new-found intolerance to immigration emerging organically at the end. "We're appallingly racist people," he concludes.

Superficially, much of this is uncomplicated, unambitious material ­ but O'Briain compensates simply by being, by nature, a very funny man. It's hard to quibble over the lack of a dramatic edifice when you're laughing so much.

This he achieves in large part by the relentless, breathless pace of his delivery ­ tumbling out thoughts, ideas and jokes before you've had a chance to contemplate what's going on.

With a degree in theoretical physics behind him, O'Briain can be intelligent when he wants to be, or stupid when it suits; whatever works, stays in ­ resulting on one of the most straightforward laugh-out-loud funny shows on the Fringe.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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