Briain power key to Dara's rapid wit

Dara Ó Briain talks as quickly as he thinks - which is fast. Coupled with his Irish brogue, that can occasionally make it difficult to follow his jokes but one thing that is impossible to miss is that he is fantastically funny.

James Goffin

Dara Ó Briain

Ipswich Regent on Friday.

Dara Ó Briain talks as quickly as he thinks - which is fast. Coupled with his Irish brogue, that can occasionally make it difficult to follow his jokes but one thing that is impossible to miss is that he is fantastically funny.

Despite enduring a seven-hour journey to Ipswich courtesy of an A14 smash, Ó Briain delivered an energetic and engaging two-hour set that caught up the whole audience; no mean feat given the size of the Regent.

It's easy to see why his tours are so successful, and why he has traded up from his last local date at the Corn Exchange.

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The gags come fast but the pace is disguised by his relaxed, comfortable demeanour that makes the gig feel more like a night of intimate pub banter than one where a thousand pairs of eyes are focused on one stocky Irishman at the other end of the giant room.

His live comedy is more intelligent and fluid than his work hosting BBC 2's Mock The Week, blending audience interaction with personal anecdote.

On this occasion that meant riding the Norwich-Ipswich rivalry that surfaced when one of his front row targets admitted living in the city, transforming the gig into pantomime with (mostly) light-hearted booing and hissing.

A routine on Neighbourhood Watch turned increasingly surreal when one of the audience told how his dad had frightened off burglars by farting. Lesser comics might have turned to the toilet, but Dara engaged his imagination and spouted a witty and fantastical version of the bizarre events.

Other topics will be more familiar to those who have seen him before, such as his scepticism of nutritionists, homeopathy and magicians - all, it seems, charlatans - but were still delivered with sparkle.

There was only one weak spot, where a routine on moving house turned on not wanting the previous residents to have got divorced in case it was contagious - hardly the strongest punch line, but the audience didn't seem to mind.

They didn't show any sign of wanting to split from Dara anytime soon.

James Goffin

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