The hard-drinking comedian is a time-honoured trope for a reason. So when someone quits boozing, there’s sometimes a misplaced concern they’ll be less funny. Happily, Irish comedian Dylan Moran puts paid to that notion. To the contrary, since giving up the sauce, Moran is in peak form.
Although he’s never resembled Bernard Black less – his irascible, morose and shambolic Black Books character – Moran’s never been funnier. This was the sort of show where patrons were reduced to wheezing like Muttley because they couldn’t laugh any harder. That said, he’s still endearingly dishevelled, wandering out on stage with a button undone and hair only marginally better brushed than Robert Smith’s.
With a title like Dr Cosmos, Moran’s brand new show holds the promise of answers to life’s big questions. Indeed, the show explores many of the major touchstones of humanity, spanning love, sex, relationships and religion – God might be dead, but we replaced Him with Google – through to the general state of the world.
Moran doesn’t shy away from death or frailty either. He’s also fully prepared to take a dig at himself as a white, cis, straight, middle-aged European male. Two people in the row behind walked out for God knows what reason; Moran’s neither offensive nor smug. He embraces absurdity at every point but mostly his own. Take the self-deprecating discussion of the role in his home – his kids have twice asked him whether the milk’s off, but only as an act of pity. Also, his nostalgia for pre-internet days (ie. when everyone smoked and were all “skanks”) is moderated by the knowledge that his generation and its predecessors arsed things up.
There’s no narrative structure for the show and Moran can turn topics on a whim. Occasionally, there’s trepidation about where’s he’s headed next. For instance, you could’ve heard a pin drop when he started on the topic of gender diversity. We needn’t have worried though – Moran’s never mean. That said, he’ll happily put the boot in harder for a few categories of people, like racegoers (“everybody hates you”) and Trump, of course.
While surreal, Moran nails a turn of phrase and his descriptors are perfectly evocative. For example, his wife’s nocturnal noises become “two bees agreeing in the distance”, Mike Pence’s smile comes from “the back of the freezer” and women are the “original model for the internet” – they know things and, what’s more, they tell each other.
So, do we get answers to life, the universe and everything? Not in so many words, but Moran reminds us that being human is funny in and of itself, and laughter is pretty much the antidote for everything.
Highlight: Never has a description of dangly bits been so apt as discarded “bits of squid rolled in nose hair”.
Lowlight: Not a dud note, so none.
Crowd favourite: His Hans Gruber cat impression.
Dylan Moran’s Dr Cosmos tour is currently heading around the country. For dates, head to Moran’s website.
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