Review: Dara O’Briain, Crowd Tickler, Ipswich Regent, April 24

Dara O'Briain, Crowd Tickler

Dara O'Briain, Crowd Tickler - Credit: Archant

Fast, funny and often insightful; O’Briain is a force of nature when not chained to his many panel show host desks. I can’t believe I’ve left it this long to see him live.

A natural comic, there were no gimmicky narratives with elaborate pay-offs. This was a straightforward, often hilarious, look at the wrong turns and dead-ends life likes to lead us down and the way we cope.

Smart, but not in that alienating way some comedians favour, his stories and frustrations flowed thick and fast. His mouth firing as quick as his brain, he rarely paused and we rarely stopped laughing. The one time he lose did momentum was when he saw somebody at the front of the stage trying to take some not so sneaky shots of him on their phone.

He has the knack of making you feel you were right there with him when he was mistaken for Al Murray, when his wife fell asleep on playwright Harold Pinter’s shoulder or - my particular favourite - when sipping a little too much bubbly at a hootenanny may have led him to ruin The Tings Tings’ career.

O’Briain speaks to our worries and irritations with modern life. His frustration when people join the same swimming lane had my friend punching the air in solidarity. Then there was the bemusing, possibly sinister, real reason for the explosion of pulled pork.

There was plenty of audience banter during the first half. With the help of some seemingly alphabetically arranged audience members, he even invented a show about a limbo dancing serial killer who tortures people with cabbage and the limping detective who goes undercover as a taxidermist to catch him. I hear Channel Five has already committed to a full series.

The second half was slightly more serious - but still funny - as he focused on the mysteries of the brain and why we say and do the things we do. Talking about teaching children their ABCs, he capitalised on the way we cling to that anthropomorphism of objects to great effect while recounting the sad demise of Channel Tunnel digger Chuggy.

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Not one for mawkish over-sentimentalising, by his own admission he’s Comic Relief’s worse nightmare, there was real heart to his performance.

Contrary to what O’Briain may tell you, no Bothans died to bring you this review...

Wayne Savage

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