You think we have it bad here in Australia. And we do. Farmers need wives, blocks of houses need to be renovated, talent needs to be discovered and mediocre amateur chefs need to cook cheese believing they belong at El Bulli, but at least we don’t have a stand-up comedy reality TV show. They do in the UK and by all accounts it’s an abject failure.
This commoditisation of comedy does not sit well with Scotland-based Irish comic DYLAN MORAN. “It’s ridiculous – there’s way too many people. You’re getting into giant sized lifts and they’re crammed with these odd people who have been manufactured by TV executives and they’re all marching down the road trying to get a gig.”
Don’t mistake that crumpled just-out-of-bed rancour for envy however. “Look I’m not saying there are too many comics. They’re a lot younger than me and I’m not competing with them. But they do stand-up on TV more, [and] then do arenas straight away without going through the process of playing theatres for years. I’m not complaining about it because it’s not my tradition and not what I know.”
And just like the reality shows for comedians it’s all part of the slow creep from art to careerism. “It’s not for everybody. But it’s a big business. Some stand-ups are playing to 6000, 7000 people a night so somebody has to be making a lot of dough.”
Moran is halfway through a sell-out tour of the country and if for nothing else alone will be treated as comic royalty for his stint on the cult-favourite Black Books, which ran for three brief seasons on CH4/ABC in the early 2000s as the irascible, permanently sozzled literary fiend Bernard Black. It’s a role that shot him to international fame, but Moran had already spent well over a decade on the comedy circuit winning awards like the prestigious Perrier Award at Edinburgh (the youngest recipient ever) along the way.
The man himself has been reported as saying the awards and attention don’t sit well, a sentiment that looks like it hasn’t changed. “What people write about me or how they rate me is not my concern or job. I’m completely baffled by it… positive or negative. But that’s entirely fitting, because everyone has an opinion and everybody is a critic but not everybody is maker.”
At this juncture it is worth noting that Moran has a refreshingly different take on his show than what you may have going in as a punter. “The truth is I’m not that interested in stand-up comedy. I don’t think of it as a career. In all my shows all I’m trying to do is create a conversation. It should feel like a conversation even though the audience aren’t responding to everything I’m saying and I’m not responding to what they’re saying obviously.”
Dylan Moran is one of the best conversationalists around. Join in.
Dylan Moran will be chatting up crowds at The Royal Theatre on Saturday September 3. Tickets are sold out, sadly.