Sean Prower

The Art Of The Preview: Moran At Stockton Arc

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Dylan Moran previews his show at Stockton Arc

Dylan Moran’s tour Yeah, Yeah will officially begin later this month, but last Wednesday he previewed  his new show at Stockton Arc. Sean Prower went to see the inner workings of Moran’s comedy.

If you ever get the opportunity to see Dylan Moran or indeed any comedian before an official tour, please take up the chance.  Previews are a fantastic prospect to see a comedian at their rawest.  Like looking at bare mechanics of a machine, we see things that we shouldn’t really see or understand, and for anyone wanting to be a comedian, this is a great source to get experience and ideas, too.  The audience are told jokes that Moran himself says are a bit sub-par, and good on him for admitting so.  Sometimes comics, most often newer faces on the circuit, may be reluctant to ditch material but the more mature stand ups know what works well and what doesn’t and freely admit the good from the bad.

But there is definitely material from this preview that will make it into the final set without any changes – a lot of Moran’s routines were executed superbly with nicely timed pauses and gestures used to their best effect.  You can tell for one that Moran becomes more engaged with some material than other sections as he can gathers the crowd’s reaction and gets them engaged with it more, especially with an intimate venue like the Arc to enhance the experience.

Every member of the audience feels like they are each a part of the night, unlike an arena show where – if you’re at the back of the room you’re watching it on a screen – it will take until Tuesday for the distorted sound waves to reach, echo and puncture your ear drums with the added negative of numb buttocks from the hard plastic seats causing unwanted shuffling and having to sit on your coat, but I digress.

One thing you can guarantee with Moran’s comedy in particular is that his traditional style of dry wit and sarcastic surrealism will hit you the moment he arrives on stage.  There is an air about him that warms you to his character; he quickly settles you in and gets you indulging in his comic routines from the off.  And as ever, preview show or not, the admired glass of red gently accompanies one hand while the mike is gripped in the other.

For the second half of his set, Moran brought on sheets of crumpled and folded paper and admitted he would be referring to them throughout the rest of the night, claiming that he hadn’t yet sourced the ingredients for his latest comedy soup recipe.  He also frequently checked his watch which shows that he’s still learning to structure his set.  It shows that a good show isn’t just about telling jokes; it is when and how to tell them and the order in which they are delivered.  Structure is what keeps any show on its feet.

Doing previews you learn as you work, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Moran even improvised a few jokes which might later make the official set.  A common policy seems to be that it something works well, use it to its full potential. And as an audience member you could easily forget that this is essentially a practice show – this is still a spectacular evening of surreal stories and wonderful punchlines.  Dylan Moran is an outstanding comedian and a stellar act to see live, and if he plays a show near you, do the wise thing and go along.  Even if it is ‘just a preview.’

Dylan Moran starts his tour on the 22nd April in Malmo followed by appearences in Stockholm, Helsinki, Gothenberg and Oslo. He hits the UK on the 29th in Liverpool,  ending July 15th at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. Further information is available on his website here.