Jamie Stubbs

Dara O’Briain: Craic Dealer – Newcastle City Hall

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Dara O'Briain | Giggle Beats

Dara O'Briain

Dara O’Briain rolled into the North East last week for a three night stint at Newcastle City Hall, touring his charmingly punny show ‘Craic Dealer’. O’Briain, to my mind, is the most industrious of the ‘Mock the Week’ bunch; a public figure for many years, Dara has been consistently touring and producing new two hour shows bi-yearly for as long as memory serves. Where other comics might be tempted to book a support slot, O’Briain gives the crowd their money’s worth with material, ploughing on in his much loved motor mouth style for over 120 minutes.

O’Briain is undoubtedly the master of audience banter, forming most of the first half, as ever, around his various interactions with the front row. He almost reaches Ross Noble levels of surrealism during some of the more bizarre moments with the crowd, but as he says you’ve just got to go with it and hang on. It really does pay off. O’Briain seems to be able to turn the most pedestrian of replies into brilliant works of comedy in an instant. He also champions the members of the crowd he speaks to, raising them up to legendary status, turning their stories into memories and major talking points after the gig, rather than mocking and ridiculing them.

Though most certainly a TV comic, it’s safe to assume the good bulk of Dara’s audience did not come off the back of his recent maths programme on Dave. But unlike the Boyles and Howards, his colleagues and almost counterparts in the stand up trade, O’Briain seems to attract a relatively normal audience, far removed from the easy to profile crowds the others have carved out – and it’s refreshing.

That’s not to say O’Briain doesn’t attract quite a few oddballs at his gigs, as he exemplifies himself with the #youhadtobethere hashtag he’s been using on Twitter. Saturday night’s show at the City Hall offered up more strange audience interludes, as odd off the cuff remarks arrived from the front row about elves playing spoons during massages and an excellent story about a local pest control operator. Again, #youhadtobethere.

O’Briain himself has mentioned in the past that being in the host’s chair on Mock the Week means people have approached him after gigs oblivious to the fact he does stand up at all, let alone that he was currently touring. It’s the compere’s curse on a larger scale but it’s really a great shame: O’Briain is that and so much more.