Earlier this year, Dylan Moran, the man whose name is best known for playing a bookseller in the Channel 4 series Black Books, professed his desire to become an author.
Earlier this year, Dylan Moran, the man whose name is best known for playing a bookseller in the Channel 4 series Black Books, professed his desire to become an author. Unlike live comedy, he explained, writing a book would allow him to have total control over an art form. "I'm a comedian. Of course I'm going to write a novel," snorted Moran during one interview, a statement that fellow comedian Sean Hughes, in the audience tonight, would surely appreciate. But Moran, though decidedly suspicious of celebrity and a rare example of a top comic without his own website, also has a burgeoning film career to worry about, with credits including last year's British success Shaun of the Dead; The Actors with Michael Caine and Michael Gambon; and still in production, Tristram Shandy with Messrs Fry and Coogan.
Thus this two-week reprisal of his Monster II tour could be seen as a golden opportunity to catch the downbeat Irishman before he disappears away from stand-up into other projects. During tonight's show, over which he has total control since the West End audience is hardly fertile ground for hecklers, he does allude to his creeping fatigue with live comedy, opining "I'm bored listening to me sometimes."
So perhaps Moran's world-weary schtick might have finally taken it's toll and he will indeed search permanent refuge in the more aloof world of cinema and literature. Yet if this is true, it doesn't stop him being engagingly disdainful and making deft touches that more-often-than-not enliven hackneyed comedy territory, for example likening silent couples to the cold war superpowers, lampooning the showy wealth of rap stars or deriding the efforts of some street beggars: "because they just look like a slouched version of me."
Though never a political comedian - even stating "I don't think you should ever be improved by comedy" - Moran does take time out to acknowledge the re-election of George Bush, likening the event to feeling sick and knowing that it will be a long time before you eventually throw up. True, Moran doesn't dwell here, believing Bush and his supporters to be so ludicrous as beyond a joke, but he doesn't dwell on anything too long, even for a languid comedian his leaps and links are almost jaunty.
Certainly, Moran can take most things in his stride, a section about being invited over to a friend's new house for the obligatory tour and dip snacks sounds like Jack Dee with added irreverence, Moran's conversations with himself are reminiscent of Eddie Izzard; meanwhile his regional caricatures, sadly few and far between here, jump off the stage. Like Izzard's last tour, Monster II has some very average material within it (a section on children being a case in point), but the experience of both comedians enables them to weave something above average from it.
The section where Moran shows most teeth is at the beginning of the second half, in which (after a nice take on the audiences' thirst for interval drinks, "screaming for doubles and trebles") he delivers a stream-of- consciousness tirade against the image obsessed. It feels like it came out of nowhere, or from a book. Chances are it may yet find its way into one.
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