I feel quite privileged to have had the opportunity to see and review Dara Ó Briain’s show at Hamer Hall on Tuesday Night. It has been 16 years since Ó Briain last visited Australia. I hope it won’t be so long until he returns, but you never know, so I’m glad I got to see him perform this trip. It was also great to see that as well as performing well on stage, and of course having a great sense of humour, he is also friendly and approachable to fans. Bumping into him at dinner led to a photo, and I was very amused when his opening anecdote was about having to crouch for photos with much shorter fans, which was very relevant to his selfie with my vertically challenged self.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about Ó Briain’s style of stand-up is how much of it is in response to spontaneous events – conversations with the audience, or anecdotes about recent things that have happened during his travels. It doesn’t feel rehearsed or stilted, and it makes for extremely eclectic and unpredictable content. Even unpredictable to him at times… his segment that revolved around asking members of the audience if they have ever saved a life went totally off the rails, but his consummate skill and experience was evident in how well he was still able to find the humour, and steer it back on track.
Throughout the show Ó Briain covered a wide range of topics … job opportunities for Koala’s and the varied employment experiences of the front row (grave digging, debt collection, tram museum guide, web development and porn producer) for example. We learned the TV shows he agrees to do (those that are ‘nerdy’ or rely on sarcastic humour) and those that he won’t (Ó Briain knocked back ’Who do you think you are’ because it was “None of their f*&%@# business”). We heard a little about what it is like to be married to a Doctor… and something about the challenges of being married to a comedian. About what it is like to be the only male parent at children’s activities. And after a particularly dark selection of stories from the audience, how the Melbourne audience was extremely gothic. No matter the topic, the audience was in stitches, with barely time to breathe before the next wave of laughter. Ó Briain is a natural storyteller, who can find the humour in any situation.
Despite the ongoing hilarity, Ó Briain’s show would not be for everyone. Anyone with a hearing difficulty, or who finds it hard to follow fast speech, or accents would struggle. He speaks extremely fast, and often mumbles or fails to finish a sentence. His advice is to ‘listen faster’. Despite missing more than a word here or there, the context always seemed to come across, and I never felt I was missing a punch line.
Ó Briain closed the show by giving an individual thank-you speech to each of the front row audience members he had ‘interviewed’, humorously summing up their information. It was impressive he remembered all the details 2 hours later, and a nice touch to acknowledge the people that basically get mocked to fuel his humour.
Dara Ó Briain’s show was an absolute pleasure, and I will be first in line for tickets when he returns.