By Chris Hammond
For almost twenty years, Irishman Dylan Moran has been heavily involved in film, television and live stand-up comedy. Regarded by many as one of the most caustic observational live comics in the industry, Moran is also readily recognisable from his film appearances in ‘Run Fat Boy Run’ and ‘Shuan of the Dead’, not to mention his starring role in self penned sitcom ‘Black Books’.
Since his appearance in 2008’s dark comedy ‘A Film With Me In It’ Dylan’s biggest undertaking has been his massive ‘Yeah Yeah’ tour. Just back from finishing his final gigs, Dylan talks TV, touring and the saturation of stand-up with Scotcampus.
Filmed at the Hammersmith in London, according to Dylan ‘Yeah Yeah’ had a little more of an unscripted, improvised nature to it: “It’s quite hard for me to remember because I did it quite a few months ago now. I don’t mean it was hard to remember because it was back then but it was a very ‘live’ live show. Whether it was the best of the tour or not, it was certainly the most enjoyable of all the recordings I did. I didn’t know how it was going to go from one day to the next, but somehow it all hung together. It had a kind of enjoyable jazz feel to it on the night.”
Despite clocking up over 100 performances on the tour, Dylan still sounds as conscientious about his performances as a fledgling comic with something to prove would be. It’s not apprehension he explains, it’s more of a desire to develop and deliver as good a performance as he can. “Nerves? No. You want a lot from of the show, you don’t just want to turn up and do a show otherwise what’s the point? You need to get better over the years you know? With this tour I was still messing with the show by the time I recorded it. I was cutting things out and putting new things in. I was thinking oh my god; I really hope this is good because at that point I was thinking it could go either way. But I was thrilled when I walked off, because it worked. I’ve been doing it for this long I don’t want to go out there and just do a show which is just ok, or do one which has good and bad bits, I really wanted to do a great show.”
Speaking about the destinations and dates involved in ‘Yeah Yeah’ it’s apparent that the tour was a massive undertaking. So it’s no surprise that Dylan seems to be quite glad to be back in his adopted home of Edinburgh. When it’s put to him that stand-up has reached saturation point, Dylan isn’t quick to contradict the suggestion. “That’s just kind of crept up. Yeah you’re absolutely right, it has gone that way and I don’t always think it’s a good thing. I personally think that it’s kind of jumped the shark, it’s peaked and now it’s on the turn. There’s just way too much of it.”
A quick flick through most digital TV schedules on any given night of the week and you’re likely to find a stack of pre-recorded arena sized stand-up shows. Is there just too much Michael McIntyre? ”Look, everybody has different tastes and I don’t take any particular pleasure in bringing somebody else down or bigging somebody else up. The thing is there’s just too much of it. I ‘m not interested in football so I’m constantly battling the amount of coverage it gets on TV and radio. It’s the same with stand-up it’s everywhere so you’d be pretty pissed off if you didn’t like it. I mean can you imagine some women’s sport or curling actually got ten minutes of coverage on something like the Today Programme, everyone would be thinking ‘what the fuck?’. Stand-up used to be like that but now it isn’t unusual anymore, it’s just become some mass market thing . . . You can see how it’s happened though; it’s so cheap for television producers. With the right performers they can just let them go out and take all the risks.”
With mainstream music in the doldrums and the voice of national newspapers increasingly under scrutiny, is it not a time for stand-up to act as a voice for those concerned with the way things are being run in the country? “Yes, but at the same time, what’s happened in the last few years in particular we’ve all become rolling news junkies. You’ve got an awful lot of people out there on their soapboxes already. Most stand-ups tend to be centrist-left anyway. Generally speaking it’s the lower-classes’ medium, so you don’t get many right wing voices anyway. Right wing voices tend to keep quiet because they’ve got all the cash, so they don’t care about having their voice heard!”
Just about to finish the interview, we asked Dylan what he thought about the previous decade. Rather than reflect on the international success of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ or the massively popular ensemble sitcom ‘Black Books’ Dylan had a slightly more down to earth view of the ten years just past. “I think I just broadly feel for all the kids coming out of school and university because it’s shit out there. But it was like that when I left school too. I think what’s happened in these last few years, I wouldn’t go as far back as ten, this bubble of prosperity and happiness we’ve all been told will never end has burst. A lot of what we were led to believe, especially under Blair has been proven false now. It’s just like a bad hangover. Understandably everyone is very very angry, furious . As horrible as it is, practically speaking it’s a dose of reality and we’re all more engaged with it. We’ve been living through this chemical and consumption age and now people are taking a look at it. It’s now up to the generation who are going into and leaving university to rebuild, I hope they find their voice and learn from what’s happened in the past.”
Yeah Yeah is out on DVD now. Visit www.dylanmoran.com for more details.