Dara O’Briain gig review

Dara O'Briain brought his comedy tour to the Birmingham Hippodrome on 16th March. And Simon was in the audience...

Firstly, a quick note to the man sat behind me. Granted, it’s a long shot that said individual will a) know who I am, and b) have then coincidentally found these words, but nonetheless, I still have something to say to him.

Here it is: I am not a small person. I fully understand that sitting behind me isn’t the ticket you expect to get when you spend ages on the end of a booking line on-hold message. I also, however, have this tendency to appreciate that, and will move as required so the person behind me can see properly, even if the arrangement of the theatre means I’m not really blocking their view. The only exception to this rule is when said person behind me makes mutterings and pointings about my size as soon as they sit down, in which case there’s as much chance of my buttocks moving for the next two hours as there is me clambering on the stage and taking over the gig myself. Just so we’re clear.

It was, in this case, a cracking gig though, with Dara O’Briain further cementing himself as one of the best and quick-witted stand-ups working today. I’d never seen him live before, but am a paid-up Mock The Week fan, and thoroughly enjoyed his sole stand-up DVD release. And what was intriguing about his new show was just how much he was willing to trust himself to follow the stories that the audience threw at him. Granted, this led to one of two segments being explored perhaps a little too long, but there was real gold in his audience interaction, and didn’t O’Briain know it.

The undoubted highlight of his questioning of the crowd came when he asked whether anyone had interrupted a crime. After one or two tales, he chanced upon a woman who told the story of a dinner party she was at in someone else’s house. Half-way through the salmon starter, said woman saw a burglar going up the stairs, although nobody would believe her at first. On investigation, she opened a door to find said burglar standing in the corner with his hands over his eyes, eventually hopping it through the window and dropping his swag in “the courgette patch”. “Just how more middle class can this story get?”, was the swift riposte from O’Briain.

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If there was a favourite monologue though, it was one of the first that he told, a tale of performing a gig after England had won the Rugby World Cup. More to the point, twelve hours after they’d won the World Cup, to a crowd who had been drinking all day. So much so, that they’d forget the opening to a joke before he got to the end. The joy though was O’Briain’s gut-bustingly funny description of the magician who followed him on stage, who realised that his tricks might be lost on a group who couldn’t remember what card they’d picked ten seconds after they’d chosen it.

And how could you not warm to his rant about video piracy forced adverts on DVDs, when you’ve paid for the damned thing? It’s was a Den Of Geek bugbear, live on stage.

With a tendency for high-profile comics to put on tightly-scripted, hour-and-a-half performances, it was a genuine delight to spend two hours in the company of a man who was happy to explore whatever material he could find in the crowd as much as relying on what he’d prepared beforehand. It meant that the evening had a few lower-tempo moments, of course, but conversely, it also meant that O’Briain’s lightning-fast wit was never far away from generally an unscripted laugh.

In all, a smashing night out, and a ticket worth fighting for next time the man plays near you.