Dara O'Briain - Interview
Posted by Guest Writer on Tue, 04 Sep 2012.
In recent years, Dara O'Briain has become one of our best loved TV faces. The Irish comedian has gained a huge following hosting a wide range of programmes, including the consistently brilliant topical panel game, Mock The Week, the hit show about wannabe entrepreneurs, The Apprentice – Your Fired! and the enormously popular astronomy programme, Stargazing Live.
Alongside Griff Rhys Jones and Rory McGrath, Dara has also delighted viewers with several series of their highly entertaining nautical adventures, Three Men in a Boat. It is not hard to see why he is one of the most in demand TV stars in the business.
But now he is returning to his first love. After his sell-out tour of the UK and Ireland in 2010 and his bestselling DVD, This Is The Show, Dara is once again travelling round the country with a brand-new show. No, I don't want to miss it, either.
He will be hitting the road this spring, and reminding us why he is one of the finest stand-ups on these islands. There are few more magnetic, thought-provoking, quick-witted and down-right funny comedians currently at work.
Don't just take my word for it, however. The critics are equally enthusiastic about Dara's coruscating comedy. The Times raved that he is, "One of the most dependably entertaining stand up comics in the land". The Guardian declared that, "His set is a masterclass in intelligent, no-frills stand-up". While the Evening Standard said that, "If you don't laugh at Ó Briain, check your pulse - you must be dead." Metro, meanwhile, went for the short and sweet critique: "Devilishly sharp." I couldn't have put it better myself.
Dara and I are chatting in a West London restaurant in the run-up to the tour. He is one of those rare comedians who is just as funny offstage as he is on it. He can be summed up by all those adjectives beginning with C – charismatic, charming, compelling and completely hilarious. An hour in his company simply flies by.
He is really looking forward to touring with his new show, which is called "Craic Dealer Live." The title is quite appropriate, as Dara himself explains. "Nothing beats the buzz of stand-up," beams the comedian. "It is easy to see why people compare performing live comedy to hard-core drugs. You need more and more!
"There is no greater pleasure than doing stand-up. When you tie a bow on a routine or find a gag that is unique to that night, the sense of satisfaction is immense. I can't wait to start touring again!"
One of Dara's greatest strengths as a stand-up is his dazzling, spontaneous exchanges with the audience. Indeed, The Evening Standard has commented that he, "Worked the stalls like a puppet master." The comedian observes that, "I get such a thrill from my audience. They remain a great untapped resource. I love interacting with them. They go in directions I would never have thought of.
"One of the things that makes stand-up great and different from any other art form is that it's so reactive. You break the fourth wall and engage in a really natural conversation with the audience. You don't want to fall into the corny trap of taking the micky out of people. You are not just looking for a victim, but someone who will add something to the show. The audience can feel the tension when it is off-the-cuff and can sense that it's unique. It's great fun!"
Dara goes on to reveal that in this show he will be asking the audience about their jobs. He says that, "Some of the audience chat is based on my bewilderment with the world of work. I'm now institutionalised in my life, so real people who do real work baffle me! Nowadays, people very rarely do jobs we learnt about as children like butchers or bakers. A guy the other night said he was in investment insurance, whatever that is!"
The comedian, who this spring is also presenting Dara O Briain's School of Hard Sums, a fascinating series on Dave about how you solve mathematical problems, continues that, "If you do gigs in colleges these days, you find out that the students are studying really specific subjects. They'll say things like, 'I am studying the freezing of fish –not just any fish, but flat fish!'"
Dara muses that the difficult part of stand-up is finding topics to talk about. "But once you have found them, your natural stance takes off. This far into a career, you're like a sitcom character. Your persona takes over. What's my persona? It is argumentative but with a tendency towards misadventure. It's not the most catchy title in the world, is it?"
So what themes will Dara be addressing in "Craic Dealer Live"? As he has just hit 40, he will be discussing the subject of ageing. He says that, "There is a long section about whether we genuinely shift to the right as we get older. Once we reach a certain age, are we on the slippery slope of golf club membership and reading other people's planning applications? Is it just a lifetime of fighting tiny battles?
"That idea started with the riots during the summer. I was watching how quickly Twitter went authoritarian during the riots. Midway through the first night, rubber bullets and water cannon were being proposed on Twitter. I thought, 'Wow, that didn't take long!'"
Dara goes on to imagine how he might react if he encountered a burglar in his house in the middle of the night. "As that routine expanded, I realised how much I sounded like my mother, saying, 'My God, the burglars are here. Start heating up the mince pies and don't look at the dirt!'"
The comic reflects that, "All stand-up shows are about ageing. They are always a snapshot of where you are at that moment. At one point in 'Craic Dealer Live', I start to ridicule the phrase, 'Something for the dads".
"I'm now the stage where I'm being catered for by X Factor producers who think, 'throw him a bone with some sexy choreography'. I'm no longer an angry young Turk who is going to shake the world – that's over. I'm now being patronised by panto directors who think a couple of dancers will keep me happy!"
Dara continues to elicit such a rush from stand-up that he cannot see a time when he will ever want to retire from it. He concludes that, "As long as you're still getting and giving pleasure from performing, you don't want to stop. The Rolling Stones are still getting and giving pleasure from performing – so what's the problem?
"I still love this is much as ever. I never want to give it up!"
Very glad to hear it!
For tour dates and tickets for "Craic Dealer Live", please visit
Interview by James Rampton