A Wit Freighted With Fatigue
Dylan Moran, Irish-born toast of London comedy, gigs at the Village Theatre
By JERRY TALLMER
The Monster sank into a chair and arranged the glasses before himone glass of ginger and fizz, the other of wine. It is from both liquids, he confirmed, that he sips at close intervals throughout the hour and a half of his showin between the constant drags on cigarettes.
I myself would not be standing up under all that wine, a Yankee journalist remarked.
Its something that I grew up with, the Monster dryly replied. Hes a darkly handsome 32-year-old Irish-born, London-seasoned man named Dylan Moran, and Monster is how hes billed throughout Britain and Europe and now at the Village Theatre on Bleecker Street, but he isnt really. Its just that his wit, when he collects it between sips and puffs, can be pretty scathing.
On stage, he makes much, of course, of New York Citys anti-smoking laws and other local oddities. Now, at the end of a long, hot afternoon, an hour and a half before show time, he stared at the message window of a tiny cell phone and muttered: If you dont have a car to get around, its worthless to try to get across this fucking town.
Indeedthe Monster was toldthere was once a crotchety, lovable, pipe-smoking traffic commissioner, the late Henry Barnes, who used to say the only way to get across town in Manhattan is to be born there.
True, actually, said Dylan Moran.
He was first in the United States for a gig (now reprised) in producer Arnold Engelmans British/Irish Comedy Invasion at the Village Theatre (formerly the Village Gate) in April, presented by WestBeth Entertainment and BBC America Comedy Live. His American experience brought him to Chicago and Los Angeles, about the latter of which he complained, A toilet of a city. I would never go there voluntarily again. You need a Jag to get out.
Whats a good Irishman doing with a Welsh first name like Dylan anyway?
Youll have to take it up with my parents. But he doesnt discuss his parents, his family, or any of that. Well, they were working-class, and his father makes furniture. Period. It is on record in the London press that Dylan Moran has two children, and he now, between sips, confirms their existence. Period, full stop.
The London Evening News has tagged him the Oscar Wilde of stand-up, and he isnt quite that, but who is? You will probably nevertheless sit up and take notice when the Monster gets on the subject of religion, or religiosity, or, as he coolly, caustically puts it, just people talking to you at length about their imaginary friend.
Fatigue is, in a sense, his hallmark in performance, and it is with (professional) fatigue that, in performance, he addresses the question of, say, the ignorance of those who attack gay marriage.
Dylan Moran was born and bred in Navan, a middle-sized industrial, no, manufacturing city in County Meath, in the middle of Ireland, surrounded by farmland, and his summation of his alma mater, St, Patricks Classical School, is: I was bored. A lot of priests, a lot of theocracy, a lot of small-town mediocrity,
There is, both in Britain and Ireland, a huge conservative streak, but in Britain, anyway, its not as enmeshed in religion as herei.e., in the United States, where politics and religion are entwined. Right-wing Christian people live in fairyland, Moran said as he diddled with and squinted at the tiny cell phone.
Do you know any
Right-wing people? He stared at the questioner as at an aardvark. I know Christians. But people for whom God informs social policyI dont want to live around them.
Last month hed told the London Sunday Times: I dont do interviews, but Ive done at least 13 million interviews.
And now its 14 million since I got here, Moran lamented.
Okay, lets make that 14 million and one.
It was to a small Dublin club called the Comedy Cellar that Dylan Moran at age 20 went one week, watched the people, and thenlike the kid, Bobby, in A Chorus Linesaid: I can do that! and went back the next week and did.
Because, believe me, there were plenty of things I couldnt dosuch as find a job, or go to college.
Are there any people or things this blue-denimed misanthrope admires?
A long thought.
Well, writers and artists. Iconically brave people like Martin Luther King.
Which writers, for instance?
Another long thought. My favorite novelist is Don DeLillo. At the moment Im reading Lorca.
Moran had a bit part (as Rufus the thief) in Notting Hill, and has been in a couple of films that are yet to be released in the U.S. One is The Actors, opposite Michael Caine, written and directed by Conor McPherson.
Michael Caine plays an older actor, I play a younger actor and lots of different parts, Moran said.
The other movie is a ridiculous zombie parody called Shaun of the Dead.
Does he like acting?
It pays the rent. A lot of fun
sometimes. Couldnt have it my mainstay. Id be bored out of my mind.
What he most dislikes in the culture around us, the American culture in particular, is its relentless positivitylike unhappiness is a crime. A certain kind of advertising-speak that bleeds into the everyday talk of very ordinary people. An unwillingness to admit failure or anxiety. And I dont think thats the case, since a lot of things in this world are fucked up and always will be,
He does, however, like the audiences who come to see and hear him on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village.
Theyre not the kind of people who are going to throw beer cans at you or ask you to take off your top. Which is very good for them, I can tell you.
Maybe he can do striptease when he goes on Letterman, Tuesday, June 29. Remember, Oscar Wilde came here and conquered the Wild West.