Tickling the English? Or taking the piss out of the Irish?

Posted: April 17, 2010 in Random Ramblings

Dara O’ Briains comic genius has become a well-known export of the Irish to a british, specifically english, audience. For years now we have thoroughly enjoyed his dry wit, as featured in a library of comedy dvd’s accredited to his name. While the same dry wit has been an oasis of light-hearted fun in the desert of out-dated and over-rated programmes featured on RTE. However now is not a time to critique the educated yet vastly out-of-touch opinions of Pat Kenny, formerly RTE’s highest earner (at an admittedly undeserved million euro salary.) O’Briain, on the other hand is worth his rather formidable weight (I mean this in the most respectful of ways, the comic towers above the rest of us at over six feet) in comedy gold. Unfortunately in recent years he has left RTE’s “The Panel” for the BBC’s rather more popular “Mock the week”, leaving the RTE a desolate wasteland on the comedic front with only “Podge and Rodge” left in the reserves.

O’ Briain’s new book “Tickling the English” is written in a comic style that is typical of O’ Briain. He is famous for seamlessly reacting to stories and anecdotes from the audience, therefore improvising a whole new act every time he performs. Indeed, in this new book, he admits to us that the script of his latest show consisted of seven words on which he would build a new routine every night, a routine which comprised of merely one formal joke and great deal of improv from Dara.

The book is based on a year in the life of Dara as he tours across britain and Ireland. As he travels, he writes a commentary on the diversity of British theatres, the variations in the people themselves (think the difference between Liverpudlians and Geordies) and also relates to us the stories of the people themselves as told to him during his shows (Dara begins every show with the question “Has anyone ever stopped a crime?”. The answers to this are worth the cost of the book by themselves!) Dara’s main aim however is to discover what it is to be British and relate this back to the British people from the point of view of an outsider, a foreigner and an Irishman.

As a point of interest, the book is also highly informative on the subjects  on British culture and history which, in which it seems O’ Briain is well-versed. He is, after all, a highly intelligent man, although he would describe himself as a professional clown, he does hold degrees in physics and his intellectual prowess does shine through in his eloquent language and clever turns of phrase.

If you are a fan of O’ Briain in any way, shape or form this book is a definite must! In fact if you enjoy comedy at all, O’ Briain’s gags will make this an enjoyable read. On the other hand I feel the book would be better named “Taking the piss out of the Irish” as O’ Briain comes across as being very self-deprecating. He has, it seems found a niche in the market for an Irish comedian in the British comic world. However if you are an Irish Nationalist with an “eight hundred years of oppression” attitude, I suggest you choose something more Irish and that you look up Peig Sayers!

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