Dara O Briain at Latitude 2017 | Gig review by Steve Bennett © Stuart Hogben

Dara O Briain at Latitude 2017

Gig review by Steve Bennett

You need a certain confidence to be headlining Latitude and bring out a sheaf of notes in front of 2,000 people, including an unforgiving comedy critic. No, not me, but a ten-year-old boy who both politely put up his hand to undermine the very premise of one of Dara O Briain’s routine, then fail to understand his accent and pace for the follow-on question. So that’s only two problems with the set: the material and the delivery.

This harsh dismissal was of course exaggerated, if not entirely imagined, by O Briain himself, concluding that the age guideline posted on the marquee was there to protect the delicate ears of the performers more than the youngsters who might learn a few new words.

The mucking about, of course, enlivened the already strong material immensely. The running gag about O Briain being so out of touch he’d never ever heard of music headliners The 1975 let alone any of their hits proved equally fruitful.

You wouldn’t really know this was work-in-progress for the autumn tour. He only once turned to his notes - to ponder a great routine he forgot to do –and all the material landed. There might have been a little extra fat to be trimmed (dodgy Julian Assange impression bit, especially) but by almost anyone else’s standards, this was a zippy, entertaining set.

Starting the vein of US stand-ups, O Briain introduced himself by saying: ‘You’ll know me from such shows as… fucking all of them,’ comically outraged by his own ubiquity. Still, the TV exploits have given him plenty of anecdotes as well as a fame that’s made him a meme, a bogus profile on a dating website and the subject of a fake news report announcing his death that he hilariously pointed out he minor flaws in.

Many of his shows are geek-based, of course, and that interest spills out into his stand-up, to an excellent bit about virtual-reality headsets, and more about the Alexia-powered smart house he’s having installed.

Away from the television, he claims to be just another middle-class parent like most the Latitude audience. Whether or not that’s true is moot, but the bits of his life that aren’t like that have given him plenty of grist, which he mills with his relentless logic, attention to detail and affable, motormouth style. The autumn tour’s looking in good shape already…

Review date: 15 Jul 2017
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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