Dylan Moran first made a name for himself as the misanthropic chain-smoking lush Bernard Black in the cult television series Black Books. As his star rose, solo stand-up performances followed- Monster, Like Totally, and Yeah Yeah. Each one cemented Moran as a truly fantastic comedian with a relentless way with words and acerbically surreal powers of observation. Off the Hook is his first solo show in three years. Like Noel Fielding earlier this year, Moran has also reached middle age, a fact that has become central to his comedic fodder.
Simply put, Off the Hook is Moran at the top of his game. He regaled an enraptured audience with tales of his struggle with weight, parenting, and being subjected to the hipster ridicule that comes from being middle aged, poorly dressed and just wanting a double shot latte dammit. The perils of being “a jelly baby with a few quid.” While this isn’t unique territory, Moran made it his own with his highly quotable, elegantly crackpot turns of phrase. His delivery was such that we cannot tell if it is inspired off the cuff ramblings or just scripted to look that way- truly the sign of an excellent comedian.
The wonderful thing about Moran is his power to see the bleakly ridiculous truisms of modern existence. Religion may have been replaced by worshipping at the altar of Apple-but our fear of death remains as strong as ever. Moran likens hitting middle age to being “a slum landlord pacing on the top floor of a condemned building.” This observation is swiftly followed by a Beckettian rant about how we talk about inconsequential things such as rubbish TV shows “because if you are acting like you’re not really alive, death won’t come for you.” In a way, Moran represents the struggles that we all have to gauge meaning in our lives and connection with the world around us, and succinctly one-ups Shakespeare with the quip that life can be reduced to four stages “child, failure, old and dead.”
Despite the heavy subject matter, this reviewer was reduced to tears of laughter numerous times throughout the evening. A special mention must be made to Moran’s erotic parody encore, which needs to be seen to be given justice. A top night by a top comedian.
This article was first published in Rip It Up magazine on August 31st 2015.