So I went to Leicester yesterday night to see Dylan Moran on his current tour. Before I go into the nitty gritty (and there is quite a lot of it, due to his rather unique brand of comedy), I’ll put my experience of Moran out there. I absolutely adore Black Books, and I found ‘Monster’ (his first stand up dvd) to be many types of hilarious. So when I was on my way last night I was anticipated some quite self-deprecating humour, but nothing much more. I was both surprised, disappointed, and impressed, in equal measure, by the gig last night.
The thing about Dylan Moran, at least that I’ve found, is that all his comedy is is a poor wrapping for his own personal philosophy. Beneath his mocking jokes and annoyed ramblings, there’s definitely something more. I found it almost tragic how he was near to imploring the audience to accept what was really quite astute observations on the human condition, when all they could do was laugh at the geriatric Irishmen bobbing about on the stage in front of us.
There was one moment that was akin to epiphany. Moran was eating sweets on stage to supplement his need for cigarettes, and someone shouted out an inquiry as to what brand/make of sweet they were. Disgusted, Moran just hid the wrapper with a piece of paper and told them he wasn’t going to let them know. Because people always want to know. Rather deftly he slid this into a metaphor for the afterlife, and thus Religion, saying that everyone is in a room with a locked door, and people are killing each other when they can’t agree what’s behind the door. Some might dismiss this as pretension, but I didn’t think this was a planned comment at all; it seemed like an earnest outburst at the inane nature of the human condition.
Much of his stand up is like that. There is a style of writing called ‘automatic writing’, where you write without conscious thought. You merely put pen to paper and let it flow. I think, mostly, that’s what Moran does in his stand up. He just removes the conscious checkpoint most thoughts are stopped by, and he speaks. So ridiculous analogies arrive, and moments of clarity slip through, and he becomes both surreal and lucid.
I suppose most of these musings are utterly unhelpful to most fans of his comedy. Yes, he’s very funny. Yes, it was a great show, but really, I found myself thinking much more than laughing. I wasn’t expecting that, and I suppose the fact I didn’t really laugh out loud a whole lot of times was a bit of a disappointment. But the contemplation that replaced the humour was ultimately far more worth it. I suppose he described it best when he said ‘you can either be a liar and happy or be sane and depressed.’ An old sentiment, but it’s definitely true.