Brian Donaldson

Dylan Moran interview

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As Bernard Black, he banned mobile phones from his shop in Black Books, and as himself, Dylan Moran is more to likely to be seen sketching a sparrow than sending a tweet.

For his new show, Off The Hook, the Edinburgh-based Irish comedian, actor and illustrator is tackling the relentless charge of technology head on and considering the effects which all this enforced inter-connectivity is having on our minds and souls.

“Technology is a thing we just have to deal with, but part of the problem it’s created is that we have to be more discriminating in what we choose to spend our time on and to think about and talk about.

“You can only really find out what you think of something when you step back from the noise; it’s endlessly funny to me when I think about how we’re dealing with it: there are more computers in houses than people now. That’s how we’re all living.”

The title of his tour also taps into this idea.

“I liked Off The Hook for its multiple meanings. One is the modern parlance for crazy or batshit, the other is if somebody has a feeling of liberation, and the final, biggest thing for me is about us not being available.

“Of course, we are all so available to one another all the time; the oppression of connection rules us at the moment. After we said goodbye to religion, we all embraced technology because, I think, a great many people want to be watched and want to be observed, and want to believe in a higher power.

“There’s a great, inherent human trait to make and fabricate something bigger than yourself. Children have monsters in their wardrobes or under their bed, but we have our own paranoia of state power and we like the fact that we can now give it a name such as NSA or GCHQ.”

You wouldn’t have Dylan Moran down as being a political comedian in any shape or form, but in this election year, it would be almost negligence to avoid discussing it.

“Well, of course, I’ll be talking about the election; it’s like someone handing you a bunch of kindling. The cartoony comments you might make about the figures of the day is grist to the mill; you’re going to do that, but it’s not necessarily the real point of interest for me.

“I’m fascinated more in the wave motion of where it’s all going; it’s all very freaky now and I’ve not lived through a time quite like this. With so many more political parties involved now, it seems to be a more realistic reflection of who we are as people and as a society.”

For anyone who has witnessed a Dylan Moran live show, it’s clear that he likes to create a little bit extra for his audience with backdrops produced from his own illustrated works.

“I’ve gone to town on the backdrop this time: every time I was having trouble with the show, I’d do a drawing instead.

“That was my displacement activity, and so I’ve done a lot of drawings. I’ve generated a whole roster of people and creatures who live in these woods, so there’s a badger that’s a poet and a pig that ends up being Minister for Desserts.

“During the tour, I’ll have half a dozen small books on sale which are part of a longer piece of work. I should make it clear that the books are not for kids, as all these animals are having midlife crises.”

Having written and performed his own stand-up across the globe for almost 20 years (he recently became the first English-speaking comedian to perform a live comedy set in Russia), he has a wealth of material under his belt. But for Moran, there’s no greater buzz than going on stage and trying out brand new routines.

“When you walk out and you’ve never said it before, that’s where the comedy exists. Maybe that’s why live comedy has survived, because it has the danger element; for every comic out there, there’s no other way of trying this out except in front of an audience.

“You might do this for 50 years and think you’ve worked out what’s funny, but at the same time you can always be surprised by a room full of people.

“So, when I first try stuff out, I’ll tape it and think, ‘where is this going, what can I do with it, am I coming at it the right way?’ Often you can fall short of what you want.”

Given the praise he has received for previous touring shows such as Monster, What It Is and Yeah, Yeah, it seems most unlikely that Off The Hook will be falling short in any conceivable way.

“In essence, there’s no shortage of shit to talk about, that’s for sure; it’s a question of picking and choosing.”

Dylan Moran: Off The Hook is currently touring the UK with shows in Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Middlesbrough and more. For tickets, see