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Courtesy Gary Calton

Comedian Dylan Moran talks dying in a pool of blood

By Gurman Sahota, Oct 11 2016 —

Irish comedian Dylan Moran will make an appearance at the University of Calgary on Oct. 30 for the North American leg of his long-running Off the Hook tour. Known for his sharp wit and the dark situational comedy Black Books, the comedian will visit Canada throughout October.

The Gauntlet sat down with Moran to talk stand-up and the evolution of comedy.

The Gauntlet: How would you summarize the Off the Hook tour to someone who is new to comedy shows? 

Dylan Moran: [It’s] like a warm bath — I have no idea. I talk about anything and everything — Calgary and I will be getting used to each other. This show has gone everywhere all over the world, so I don’t just talk about where I am and what’s going on. It’s about the things we talk about all the time.

Like when you’re sitting at the table at one in the morning or when you’re having muffins with your homies — life, love, friendship, all the things of the person’s life and whatever else happens to going on, wherever we are.

Fundamentally, I’m talking about the same things we talk about during the day — relationships, where we are in our lives, the fact that we’re all going to die and how many Doritos you can put in your mouth at one time.

G: How does this differ from your other tours or specials?

M: Well, there’s probably a very good answer to that [and] I don’t know what it is. I don’t remember any of the other ones and I don’t remember this one either at this stage, so in that way [the tours are] all the same. I’ve changed the material since it’s the longest tour I’ve ever done and I can’t go and do the exact same stuff all the time, otherwise I’d go insane. So I have to try different things. I think maybe it’s a bit lighter than the other one, but feel free to contradict me on that.

G: What’s your writing process like? How do you translate from mind to page to stage?

M: I’ve tried different ways of writing it just as a piece [like] what you would print in a newspaper or something. [I avoid] just writing it out in stage-talk because sometimes you get people up on stage and they’re saying things that just sound incredibly page-bound, like something written. That can be annoying. I try not to do that.

If you actually sit down and write something as you say it on stage, you don’t give yourself room to maneuver on stage because you’re stuck with this script. You tend to underestimate how sophisticated you are. You tend to write your monologue too simply if you write it as if it’s for reading than a version of real speech. With [screen]writing, you should enjoy it as much as possible and then be quite critical when you go back to it. You should be making quite a lot of cuts. It has to be pretty lean.

G: How has comedy evolved during the time you’ve been a part of the community?

M: I think it has become more of an industry, that’s the way it is. But in some ways [comedy has become] better for women. Because when I started out there were some women who were very funny, but they had to come at things in a certain way. First thing they had to do was they had to talk about [the fact] that they were a woman throughout the entirety of their show. Now it’s more interesting, more people have caught onto the fact that it’s just a funny person on stage, no matter what gender they are. If they’re good, they’re good, just get on [with] it.

G: Why do you think the playing field in comedy for women is starting to level out now as opposed to any earlier?

M: I don’t know. I think it’s just really talent. If someone is up there and they can write or if they’re intensely charismatic or whatever it is you’re going to see it, it’s all there. [Earlier] the women went into character-work [and] it was fantastic work — amazing people like Julie Walters did great. But recently, younger women have their own voice, they don’t want to do somebody else’s work and put all their energy and talent to perform somebody else’s work. They want to perform their own work.

G: What have you found differs in performing at a university campus from other venues?

M: The audience is younger. I think Calgary is the only [university campus in the tour]. You’ve got a block of people who are in the same stage in their lives, so I have to work with that. I try and ask a lot of questions when I’m [here], that helps me figure out my angle of attack.

G:  What do you think of the Netflix comedy special phenomenon?

M: Yeah, it has made a big difference I think. It is a phenomenon. More and more people are aware of it, more and more people are interested in it. It’s a bigger scene, it’s actually grown hugely. Probably on the whole it’s a good thing, it gets people into the game. Because more people — more performers and writers — get to see each other’s stuff and look at all this great stuff out there. It can’t be a bad thing.

G: Once the tour wraps up, what do you have planned next?

M: I’ve got a couple of ideas for programs, I’ve written a couple of pilots […] I just want to take time off next year just to finish things the way I want to. I want to write the end on a few things before I kick them into the world and see what survives and see what dies face down in a pool of blood.

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