On a strange Saturday morning whim I decided to buy tickets to see Dylan Moran the following Wednesday in Dundee. Having watched all of Black Books far too many times (and definitely from a younger age than I should have been allowed), I was keen to see how the Edinburgh-based Irish comedian could entertain a live audience. Having taken a break since 2011, Off the Hook is his newest stand up show, and Dundee was the first night of his very long 50-night tour that takes him all over the UK.
A not entirely packed-Caird Hall was the chosen venue, and it sadly felt a bit too big for a show like this. Nevertheless, Moran was able to fill the room with laughter and applause easily, with his witty observations and erratic jokes. The stage was fairly minimal, having just a small table with water and a large glass of red wine. The best part about the whole set up was the continuing slide show of Moran’s own art playing overhead. His work was almost mesmerising and I found myself watching the pictures morph as I listened to his set. Some of the art was even linked to the jokes and anecdotes he told which made for a really interesting addition to his show.
A few jokes in and Moran had easily warmed up the crowd. His jokes about the referendum and the Tories went down particularly well with the Dundee crowd. By the end of the first half, he’d really found his stride and the set was coming together nicely. Or at least as together as it can feel for a Dylan Moran show. His eclectic and often shifting style of stand-up, leading him on off on crazy and some-what irrelevant tangents, was so endearing and made the whole thing feel very natural and off the cuff. He is clearly just a very funny man. Although he kind of apologised for his seemingly disorganised set, he promised that he always practiced and was nervous about the show, and I expect that seeing as it was the first night after a break, he was potentially just a bit out of practice. The second half felt more tied together to an extent, but the whole thing was very erratic and I think that’s what I liked most about it.
One personal highlight of the set was a joke about the confusing set up of modern coffee shops serving things like ‘psychopaccinos’ and his particular problem when trying to order a weak black coffee from a heavily tattooed, bearded and plaid shirt-wearing barista. He also discussed politics briefly, and the upcoming general election, calling Ed Milliband a lab experiment that had escaped before they could put it down. His observations on life, gender roles and technology, like referring to the Apple Shop as the ‘Church of Apple’, were accurate, interesting and very, very funny.
His show was really just what I expected: a hilarious and interesting set from a slightly drunken Irish man. It was clever, and insightful and very weird at times, but that’s what people expect from Moran and it’s probably what he does best. I found that after he’d left for his ‘fake ending’ and was wrapping up with a joke about 50 shades of grey, I really wasn’t ready for the show to be over. It certainly didn’t feel like we watched him perform for over an hour. Now I’m just going to have to watch Black Books all over again.