Dylan Moran’s new stand-up DVD may not break new ground, but his imagery is so absorbing, and his offhand delivery so likeable that most of the clichés are easily forgiven.
The differences between men and women, the problems of ageing, and the class divide are all well-trod comic fodder, but Moran’s turn of phrase spins them on their axis, giving enjoyable glimpses into an outrageous visual imagination.
Moran’s shows have long cultivated the sense of being in a pub listening to a perspicacious punter hold court (though this one’s more of a tea-room gig judging by the slice of chocolate cake he polishes off during the performance). For his fifth original live DVD, he’s cleaned up somewhat; swapped the wine-swilling for cake-eating, trimmed the Bernard Black mop, and extinguished the fag. The greatcoat too seems to have gone to the charity shop, all of which suits this set’s middle-aged marriage material.
Moran’s shtick has always been surrealism-tinged observation delivered with a deceptive languor. Imagine mid-90s Eddie Izzard on a truckload of Vicodin, or conversely, a slightly peppier Stewart Lee without the multi-layered irony and you’re almost there.
Yeah Yeah sticks to the formula, combining misanthropy with Romantic wistfulness and self-deprecation. The material might not have much edge, but it does have a ton of charm and wit.
Moran’s routine appears to spiral randomly inwards and outwards, moving from one casually tossed-away observation to another. He unpredictably revisits old ground seemingly as and when he remembers the material. It’s either shambolic or quite brilliant, and either way, it makes for an enjoyable, if not tightly wound set.
It’s the ground some of his material covers which, if anything, takes the shine off Moran’s low-key performance. It seems a little late in the day for more ‘men and women view relationships differently’ stuff, or any more observations about the difference between the English and the Scots, Irish and Welsh for that matter.
So while diverting, Moran’s subject matter is faintly disappointing for a comedian with his lyrical skill. He’s capable of taking his audience on deliciously bitter flights of fancy, swooping down over brilliantly weird images and fantastically imaginative creations. When these flights come to land on a tired bit about women being bitchy, or middle-age spread, you can’t help but feel cheated.
A section that won’t disappoint some readers of (and a fair few writers on) this very site is one dedicated the “unimprovably stupid films” of Jason Statham. Moran lauds Statham as the star to whom men like him can hitch their wagon and outsource their masculinity. It’s in these wry personal anecdotes, rather than its broad sweeps about nation or gender, that Yeah Yeah is at its best.
You certainly won’t buy Yeah Yeah for the extras. There are just the two: an MP3 of the set and a slideshow of the Shrigley-esque doodles Moran projects behind him while he performs. No matter though, as what the DVD does provide is a fun, relaxing evening’s entertainment with flashes of brilliant absurdity.
Dylan Moran’s a charismatic performer, but an even better writer. His skill with language makes you want to pocket his expressions and bring them out at parties as proof of your own sparkling wit. Yeah Yeah is further proof that, in a market saturated with comedian-penned memoirs and novels, his would be one worth reading.
Yeah Yeah may be situated at a comfortable distance from the so-called edge, but that’s where it was no doubt intended to sit. Fans will find much to enjoy and newcomers will be charmed. Now let’s have that book please Mr Moran, we’re waiting.
You can rent or buy Dylan Moran Yeah Yeah Live In London at Blockbuster.co.uk.