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Dara O’ Briain, Middlesbrough Town Hall, 20/10/10


Stand-up comedy is a funny old game. Funny in the sense that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, one person’s favourite can ellicit a wrinkle of the nostril from another. Dara O’Briain seems to not be in either category. On Mock The Week, he essentially plays second fiddle to the panellists each week. Here at the gig, even with expertly crafted gags, the audience seemed like hard work, they enjoyed the effort but didnt seem to want to participate when he opened things out.More fool them, as Dara’s sharpness shines throughout. Each gag is polished to perfection, the punchlines never signposted.

Having enjoyed 2 previous gigs at the same venue, I was familiar with his style: the 1st act he banters with front row members, drawing humour out of their answers; the 2nd act is where he does his actual routine. I eagerly awaited his banter with front row guests. This time though, they were hard work,  though attempts at heckling were snuffed out expertly. The other audience members were more receptive, yet still Dara had to fight to get some input. This, however, is where he stands in a class of his own. Lightning quick with responses, this is when the audience enjoyed him most.

His material covers quite a wide range, whether covering his degree in mathematical science or the fact that people think he’s older than he looks (he’s only 38 if you’re wondering), while throwing in the odd topical gag to keep things fresh. Its a shame he doesnt have more input into Mock… as he would doubtless draw in a more loyal following. As it is, by the end of the night even Dara himself admitted that he wasnt sure whether the audience had really enjoyed themselves (he even Tweeted the day after to say “Middlesbrough, you are one strange crowd”).

The one thing I can say without any hesitation, Dara O’Briain is easily up there with the very best stand up comedians, and I can’t wait to see him for a 4th time. I advise you to buy tickets the minute he announces his next tour.

By Steve on December 7, 2010

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