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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Success by stealth

The comic genius that is Dylan Moran is about to launch a new tour of the UK – and he performs a special warm-up gig in Cumbria next week.

It’s all a bit hush-hush and is not mentioned on his website or any fan pages.

But his one man show at Whitehaven’s Rosehill Theatre is a sell-out, of course.

It is a major coup for the theatre which has firmly established itself on the comedy circuit with recent shows from Shappi Khorsandi and Jon Richardson.

And those few, those lucky few who have snaffled up tickets are expecting something special.

Moran is one of those few comedians who sparks excitement when a new series or show or gig is announced.

Yet he’s not coining in millions filling arenas and footie grounds.

Perhaps it’s his rarity value.

You don’t see him popping up on Mock The Week, Have I Got News For You or any other comedy panel show.

He just isn’t interested in that sort of thing.

“No, I’m not. That’s the short answer, but there you go!

“I’m just not. I don’t want light entertainment. I want heavy entertainment.”

He won’t be next in line for The One Show and he’s unlikely to star in a front page expose by a Sunday tabloid.

He’s a quiet, shy man, who likes to let his comedy talk for him.

He doesn’t Twitter, he doesn’t blog. His website consists of one page of dates for the upcoming tour.

He doesn’t give interviews. Well, not many.

A quick zip through the internet reveals that the last ones he agreed to were two years ago, to publicise his last tour What It Is.

Perhaps his appeal and high regard is down to his quality.

He did make three award-winning series of the cult Channel 4 comedy Black Books with Bill Bailey and Tamsin Greig, which he co-wrote with Graham Linehan, one of the writers responsible for Father Ted.

In it, he plays the doom-laden, drunken, chain-smoking, Bernard, the disorganised owner of a ramshackle book store.

Originally broadcast between 2000 and 2004, dog-eared Bernard stole the hearts of comedy fans and the series have been regularly repeated since.

Episodes are still occasionally thrown into the dead of night schedules of one of the Freeview channels and he still gets quizzed about it.

“I do get asked a lot! It’s great, because people obviously enjoyed it. God, I’m amazed! It was just a TV comedy, and people do remember.

“I am amazed after all this time people are still saying ‘when are you doing the next one?’”

His stand-up is similar. A bit miserable, but not whiny. Black, not bleak.

It’s the persona he adopts, it is not him – though he does share Bernard’s love of cigarettes and his bumbling style.

Perhaps the reason for his popularity and interest in his output is the fact that it takes so long for him to produce something new.

His new tour, which starts with five dates in Scandinavia later this month and ends with two nights at London’s Hammersmith Apollo in mid July is called Yeah Yeah.

While some stand-up tours seem to morph into one unending round of dates stretching from one year to another, these are his first live dates in almost two years.

The show at The Rosehill on April 12 is honestly branded as New Stuff, as he trial- runs his new material, though not the entire new show.

In the past he has admitted: “I have hours and hours of material that I’ve written and some of that I know is good to go, and some of it is not.

“It’s like an endless stew, or compost. I am constantly shovelling new bits in and then old bits get displaced. That way, I don’t get bored.”

Now 39, he has spent the last 23 years trying not to get bored.

He left school in County Meath at 16 and after four jobless years, “drinking and writing bad poetry” he saw Ardal O’Hanlon perform at Dublin’s Comedy Cellar, and decided to have a go himself.

A year later, in 1993, he won the So You Think You’re Funny award at the Edinburgh Festival. Three years later, he became the youngest person ever to win the Perrier Award and promptly said it should have gone to Bill Bailey.

In 1997 he went on his first major tour, Gurgling for Money and the following year appeared in his first TV role, in the BBC2 sitcom How Do You Want Me?

He had a cameo part in Notting Hill, before unleashing the lovable grouch Bernard on the world.

Since then he has appeared in in the zombie rom-com Shaun of the Dead and Run Fat Boy, Run and it looked as though acting might take over from comedy.

But it hasn’t. He returned to stand-up tours and Monster I, Monster II, Like, Totally and What It Is were huge hits.

In 2006, he was ranked by a Channel 4 poll as the 17th Greatest Stand-Up. In 2007, the national French newspaper Le Monde named him “the greatest comedian, living or dead” which, perhaps going a wee bit too far.

He comes from a nation of great storytellers, poets and talkers and he reckons that the best stand-up shows are like a good conversation.

“The thing a stand-up show probably resembles best is a conversation. If you’re used to one person talking, you can have a conversation with somebody’s reactions and expectations to what you’ve just said.”

DYLAN MORAN

Rosehill Theatre, Whitehaven

Tuesday April 12.

Doors 8pm. Sold out

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