I was lucky enough to have a few minutes on the phone with Dylan Moran, the brilliant Irish comedian who stars in the tv show Black Books, during his European tour (another one!) for his “Off the Hook” show. We talked about his approach to life and humour and we laughed (a bit).
You’ve been living in Scotland for a while now, do you talk about Brexit a lot? Is politics a good material for your shows?
Yes, of course, politics is a big part of life. Especially, it seems even more so now, that we think and talk about it too much, that it’s taking too much of our time a day. Our days are filled with issues, which increasingly leaves us less time for actually living. Our days seem to be all about debating any minute of the day now, especially with the American elections as well, the European crisis and the terrible wars in Syria and this region.
You’ve been touring for this show for almost three years now…
(interrupting) 385 years to be exact.
(laughs from me) Is “Off the Hook” a constant work in progress? Otherwise you would be bored to do the same show all over again every night anyway I guess.
Yes you are right, it is an endless pot of soup, it’s keep being added, using local ingredients.
Do you adapt to your audience as you go to different places?
Of course, you have to adapt to where you are. I have been to so many places, I’m interested naturally in everywhere I go, so I tend to ask a lot of questions, to know what is happening in the city or the country. I try to deal with all the clichés that pop to mind and see what people miss about this place. It’s important because that’s where people live, you have to talk about their experience. It’s not the whole show of course.
Your humour is quite dark and sarcastic, your character is not very lovable as such. The aim is to make people laugh, not to be loved I guess. I am also thinking about your character in the movie Calvary, Michael Fitzgerald is described as a “lonely and unpleasant millionaire”. Why do you love so much bad people?
First of all nobody ever told me that I was not lovable on stage so thank you (we both laugh). My character in the movie Calvary is a very messed up guy. If you think about for a minute of the real efficient people that you know, they tend not to be very funny. It’s generally the excess, the depressed, the hyperactive, something going on that will make you laugh. My characters are dysfunctional in some way, that’s what I’m interested about.
My characters are dysfunctional in some way, that’s what I’m interested about
Your shows evolved with your personal life. You gave up smoking, you have teenagers children now, but it seems that your character is still immature, (“men don’t want to grow up”) does it mean that men never change?
I think that in western societies we tend to raise boys as decision makers as we tend to tell girls that they’re going to deal with people and to adapt to people. I think that it’s the case. I think that men don’t really care about what other people think, as women tend to overthink other people’s reactions because they care more about them.
Your observation of men and women, the relationship between the two is something that you mention a lot in your shows…
I like to to talk about it, even if people always say that’s in an old topic, men and women, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about what patterns and behaviour that we consider as normal, not even knowing why. That’s the nature of convention, you don’t question it and it becomes the way of life. Only people from outside who points out “why you do this?”
You said you grew up in the country, you make fun of country life in a very funny piece, yet you’re not tender with urban people either. Do you set any boundaries about who and what you talk about?
No, I don’t talk about the people in the cities the way I talk about the ones in the country, I will, I want to talk about everybody. I suppose the vast majority of my audience is living in cities. So it’s probably something that I missed that it’s so obvious, but you are pointing it out now, I’ll get to that after I work on being lovable (laughs from me).
You’ve been living in UK for a long time now, what is your relationship with Ireland? With the introduction of the gay marriage, do you think the country is changing to more openness?
I hope so. I think it is, inevitably it is becoming more European. Ireland has had a lot of growing up to do. It’s an outward looking and imaginative place, full of interesting people, so I have high hopes for Ireland.
I have high hopes for Ireland
So you are optimistic for once!
I am quite optimistic for a lot of things.
You don’t really show it in your shows…
Within a reason. How funny are people’s hopes and dreams. I try to show reality as it is and talk about the things that make us upset and depressed. I like to talk about reality more than dreams. Although you could argue that a lot of the things that upset us are really fictional. Take for example digital media. I mean getting upset about a video of Donald Trump is a bit absurd because this is really a fiction too. We have accepted somehow that what we are looking at on our phones constitutes reality.
What are your future plans? After you finish this tour.
I’m writing a lot of things, I have a series idea that I’m working on. I’ve been thinking about this for years. Before I do that I’m gonna dig a hole, climb into it and put a sheet over it. And sleep for a while. So it might take a while for me to finish that.