Published Oct 11, 2016Though he now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland, Dylan Moran was raised just outside of Dublin, Ireland, a city best known for him, a long infatuation with the potato, and a toque-loving guitarist who asks people to call him the Edge.
"Oh man, that's mean," Moran says over the phone. "That's like me saying that Canada is just moose, snow and Justin Trudeau's pecs. Is that fair?"
Moran's a highly esteemed and award-winning comedian, writer, author, actor, and filmmaker whose work has been compared to William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. In a four-star review, The Guardian once said, "His comedy takes on an existential dimension, as tubby, nicotine-starved, emasculated Moran comes to represent the struggles we all wage for meaning and connection." Even in a rave, they called him "tubby." Seems odd.
After a successful tour of Europe, Moran brings his Off the Hook tour to North America, including Canadian dates in Toronto (Oct 14), Ottawa (Oct 15), Halifax (Oct 17), Calgary (Oct 30), Vancouver (Nov 2) and Victoria (Nov 3).
"I called it Off the Hook, because I'd been on my own case for a while and then just said, 'Aw, fuck it,' and decided to just have fun," he explains, suggesting he got into his own head a bit, creatively. "So, it's about continuing to have a good time with people. It's a bit lighter than other things I've done.
"I don't tend to be too reflective of my shows or sit around thinking about the show too much. It's a question of feel and winging it and working it out. I don't fuss because, when you do, you lose the juice and flavour of the thing."
Known for his frank storytelling and blunt, existential riffs on modern times, Moran is not entirely surprised by a world that has fostered life-altering and depressing events like Brexit in Europe or the rise of xenophobic American hatemonger and misogynist, Donald Trump.
"In one sense, it's important not to give a shit. Because even though it's world-shattering news, it's not really going to impinge on the internal weather you're experiencing," Moran reasons.
That's not to imply he hasn't contemplated this strange era of a frightgeist we're in — a temporal slap in the face of any semblance of human progress, where horrible morons now feel entitled to say aloud the things that, by any reasonable measure, should remain sealed up in their puny brains.
"It's a resurgence of tribalism [because of] the demotion of power," Moran says. "White people of a certain age were powerful and now they're less so and they're having trouble dealing with it. People don't want to accept their drop in status. They're freaked out by the liquid nature of modernity — by the fact that it's constantly transforming.
"It feels like there's a lot more transparency and an understanding that the material world is finite. Most people in the West are increasingly secular and don't believe in a particular entity that's interested in our fate as a species. People are losing their minds because they thought they were terribly important and now they realize they're just one character in a big show."
This all sounds bleak and terrible but is it good for comedy? Is a worldwide panic attack actually funny?
"Sure it's funny, of course," Moran argues. "I mean the struggle to keep up is completely impossible, yet we get up every day and try to do it. You try to put your best face on and step out to take on the world, but it's impossible.
"It's this constantly morphing monster doing a 'Harlem Shake' in your face every day with new, crazy, bat-shit events and developments. There's no way you can keep up. So, there's loads of comedy in ignoring it or trying to face it or whether you decide to get out of bed or not."
Moran sticks out in a crowded field of standups because he's a shambolic intellectual. His style seems a bit free form and improvised and he often acknowledges the fact that he's forgotten something he had planned to say on stage.
"I'm not some shiny-suited zinger slinger; I don't have the wherewithal to do it," he says of his style and approach. "I don't really want to think about it too much."
But he reveals something about his core when discussing how Dublin and Ireland have changed since he was a kid. By his reckoning, they've both gone from all-white Catholic monocultures to full-fledged, diverse cosmopolitan destinations where people from all backgrounds now reside and thrive.
"The thing I miss the most is the syntax, the way people talk," he says of Ireland. "The indirect, round about way of talking and the way people can manage to create a lot of fun with just a lot of talk. It's less information-led.
"People talk for the pleasure of talking in Ireland," he concludes, perhaps blissfully unaware of just how much he sounds like someone reviewing a Dylan Moran show.
"Sometimes it seems ridiculous, sometimes it's great fun."
Check out Dylan Moran upcoming tour dates, including Canadian dates in October and November, here.
Listen to this entire interview via the Kreative Kontrol podcast: