‘Black Books’ star Dylan Moran sticks to his cynical stand-up style after 25 years

‘Black Books’ star Dylan Moran sticks to his cynical stand-up style after 25 years

Dylan Moran
Words by Kate Streader

It hasn’t affected his warm personality, though.

You’d be forgiven for likening Dylan Moran to his seminal character, Bernard Black. For much of his career, his stand-up has been performed in a cloud of cigarette smoke, fuelled by a seemingly bottomless glass of red wine – much like the grumpy bookstore owner he famously embodies in Black Books.

It’s no surprise the pair share some similarities; Black Books was the Irish comedian’s brainchild after all. Yet, contrary to Black, Moran is warm and personable in conversation – despite the time difference bringing his string of Australian phone interviews towards the midnight mark.

It’s been 26 years since Moran took his first bite out of the stand-up scene, though when asked how his approach has evolved during that time, his answer is simple: “I worry about it a whole lot less, that’s all that’s changed.”

As someone who’s been in the comedy industry for more than a quarter of a century, Moran has felt the shift towards a politically correct climate in which comedians, especially, must be increasingly careful of what they say. Still, you won’t find Moran dancing around the point or avoiding sensitive subjects.

“You have reality around you and you can talk about it or you can not talk about it. But even if you don’t talk about it, people know about it and they know that you’re choosing not to talk about it and they will make a decision on the kind of person you are based on that,” says Moran.

“If you’re comfortable with that and you’re comfortable being that person yourself, more importantly, then fine for you. It’s not fine for me.”

It’s been Moran’s prerogative to spout his opinions on everything from Brexit to Donald Trump in recent years. His comedy mirrors the world around him and, in a way, serves as a means of making sense of it all. His penchant for blunt directness is particularly evident in his latest stand-up offering, Dr Cosmos, which gravitates around “love, politics, misery and the everyday absurdities of life, all served with poetical panache”.

“These are funny times, in truth,” he surmises. “We’re all losing our sense of security and sanity.”

“It’s extremely fortunate that we’re all talking to one another, and that’s what I’m talking about.”

Despite pondering in his 2006 stand-up show Like, Totally why anyone would want to visit Australia, a place “three quarters of a mile from the surface of the sun”, Moran will return to our shores for the first time in over four years this November as part of the Dr Cosmos tour.

All jokes aside, Moran offers a little love for Australian audiences, a considerable gesture for the consistently sarcastic comic. Though, as with most things that come out of his mouth, it’s difficult to tell where the deadpan jokes end and the genuine sentiments begin.

“I think Australian audiences are very switched on, they’re very cosmopolitan,” he says amongst jabs that we’d all rather be at the beach than stuck indoors listening to the ramblings of a comedian.

Not only has Moran been busy taking Dr Cosmos around the world of late, but he’s also currently working on a new series for the BBC – or “The Beebs”, as he calls it. He remains adamantly tight-lipped when pressed on what this new project will entail, though considering his success with Black Books and a 25-year strong comedy career, it’s safe to assume whatever he has in the works will be well worth the wait.

Dylan Moran brings Dr Cosmos to Hamer Hall from Saturday November 2 until Wednesday November 6. Tickets via the Arts Centre Melbourne website.