While other comedians may struggle to raise a smile in the face of an economic downturn, Dylan Moran's credentials are in rude health, finds Jay Richardson
Despite the current economic doom and gloom, or more likely because of it, live comedy is booming, with a host of big names currently touring the UK. And while luminaries like the Mighty Boosh, Sarah Silverman, Steve Coogan and Lee Evans have recently attracted flak and critical opprobrium for not meeting the standards promised by their star billing, one man sure to deliver is Dylan Moran. Topical as ever, the Irish rib tickler has found reason to be cheerful in a time of economic decline.
Appearing in Scotland recently, the Edinburgh-based comedian provided an intelligent blueprint for economising and downsizing by suggesting we eat our more annoying co-workers. His new show, What It Is, seeks to verbalise the contemporary frustrations and confusions of his audience and is earning solid notices, with crowds won over again by the irascible former Perrier Award-winner, just back from promoting the film A Film With Me In It in Ireland.
Set for a UK release in January, the low-budget production stars Moran as a writer. Much like his own, thus far fruitless efforts to commence writing his much-anticipated debut novel, his character is struggling to finish a script for his actor neighbour, played by comedian-thespian Mark Doherty, who, rather fittingly, penned A Film's script to star Moran and himself. Without revealing too much of this comedy-thriller-cum buddy movie/horror/romance's plot, it features Doherty's brother, this year's if.comedy winner David O'Doherty as a quadriplegic with a brain injury that sees him acquiring a truly memorable haircut, while also exploiting Moran's reputation for possessing a heroic, unshakeable thirst for alcohol.
As with his role as misanthropic bookseller Bernard Black in the Bafta-winning Channel 4 sitcom Black Books, you suspect this seldom placed a burden upon the 36-year-old's acting skills. But then the Irishman's shambolic, vino-loving persona has always been a huge part of his appeal. The comic and author Oliver Double maintains that during his whole career of running stand-up gigs, no other comedian attracted as much swooning female interest as the unkempt man from Navan.
Certainly, it's his natural charm and unchecked lyrical fluency that allows Moran to pull off one of his current standout routines, which opens as a plea for international tolerance but quickly turns into a continent-wide rant at the various inhabitants of Europe, one that could emanate from Nick Griffin, were it not for the ridiculously inflated insouciance with which Moran pours forth his insults. Elsewhere, his account of trying yoga for the first time is predictably entertaining, while his more philosophical, if scarcely softer side does emerge in the tale of his young daughter's reaction to finding him slumbering stark naked, pathetically in her bed.
Dylan Moran plays the Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 4 Nov.