Review – Dara O’Briain, Crowd Tickler, Derngate, Northampton, 28th May 2015

Crowd TicklerThree years have passed since Dara O’Briain’s last stand-up tour, Craic Dealer, and he asks what has changed in the meantime. Certainly what hasn’t changed is his amazingly quick wit, his awareness of what’s going on around him, his memory for details about comments or events during the show that he will bounce back at us at a later stage, his ability to talk quickly (boy can he do that!) and his extraordinary rapport with his audience.

From the moment Mr O’Briain walks on stage he demands your attention, but in a very convivial and unassuming way. He’s an awfully big chap, both tall and broad but with a strangely gangly appearance that you would normally expect from someone much slighter. He’s like a child trapped in a civil servant’s body, and when he gets animated his limbs go all over the place. He gives a high energy, top quality performance for two and a quarter hours plus, and you more than feel you got your money’s worth.

DaraOBriainIf you’re in or near the front row of a Dara O’Briain show, you’re definitely going to be part of the action. At last night’s show we had people who lied about where they came from (Irchester, never been there, is it that bad?) and what they did for a living (cultural critic for the Wellingborough Evening Telegraph – honestly, who’d pretend to be a theatre reviewer?); a photobooth repair man, his wife who’d never been allowed on board ship, and a 16 year old who’d had an MRI on his knee and ear, for whom Mr O’B had wise words of advice much to the poor lad’s hideous embarrassment in front of his family. There’s also a sequence where four people in the front row are asked for random elements to make up the treatment for a new detective show – so we had the delightful prospect of a hang-glider who murders his victims in the washing machine but the case is solved by a horse whisperer with Tourette’s.

Other memorable moments from last night include the extravagant words in a child’s ABC book, how child abduction is all the rage on TV, a hand-to-the-mouth embarrassing story of his wife meeting a famous playwright, and a visual representation of his “dancing above the gay line” during a recording of Jools Holland’s Hootenanny. But I particularly loved his sentimental account of how they built the Channel Tunnel, which even has its own hashtag, #poorchuggy.

Dara O'BriainIf you like your stand-up, Dara O’Briain is one of the few absolutely must-sees whenever he tours. Apparently effortless (I bet it’s not), a master communicator, he comes across as a genuinely nice guy with the occasional sting in the tail. Can’t recommend him too highly. His tour continues to November in all parts of the UK and Ireland. Book now!

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