Cantankerous? Curmudgeonly? Scatty? Or is DYLAN MORAN just a bit of a giggle? Words: Brian Donaldson
ohnny Vegas is a motormouth drunkard: Al Murray lives
his life in a pit of rnisogynistic l’rancophobia: Ross
.\'oble comes across as a weirdy (ieordie whose mind and tongue have launched a campaign of confirsion against one another. Once a comedian has given the ptrhlic a piece of their onstage persona. it‘s hard for its (and them) to escape that idea. first impressions may last. but half an hour on a game show. sitcom or chat show sofa can have an everlasting impact on an audience.
And thusly. Dylan Moran is a cantankerous grurnp who makes the (irinch seem like a chuckle-happy hyena who‘s nglZICLI a garageful of dinitrogen monoxide canisters. He simply must be: look at that frown. lle’s about to burst into tears at any minute. When he won the Perrier Award in NW). ga/umping his future sitcom buddy Bill Bailey. .\loran looked as though he hadjust assisted a Swiss suicide.
In How [)0 you Want MUS). he played a city boy forced kicking and screaming like the nine-year-old girl he describes himself as into a rural hell for the sake of a lady. And Bernard Black. his currnudgeonly bookshop owner who hates mobile phones. tax returns and customers with equal ferocity. came across like a boo/ed-up Basil l’awlty transposed from tacky 'l‘orquay into literary London.
As for journalists. you sense from the articles written about him
over the years. that he feels we are of little consequence. Word of
month has got him where he is today. not any of the glowing reviews that have stalked him across the circuit or the gifts bestowed upon him from comedy juries. And maybe he‘s right.
I tentatively venture this question of his ‘image’ over the phone while he sits in a car heading for his latest Munst- show in Portsmouth l‘lt's miserable: the sky is like a dirty duvet’). ‘l'm somewhat mystilied.‘ says the lidinburgh-based lrislnnan. ‘But I don‘t really give a bollocks.‘ A giggle. ‘All I can say is that I must be if that many people are saying it all the fucking time.' More giggling. Moran (which rhymes with sporran not divan) actually and pleasingly giggles quite a lot in our eight-
minute conversation: perhaps his press release description of
himself as the ‘biggcst nine-year-old girl in the British Isles’ is trtrer than he dares to think. What he doesn‘t like to think too long about is his act ~
14 THE LIST ’3’, .Iit" ‘is F Ht. 2“, ,‘
'I'M GIVING IT A SHOT; I'M NOT DOING IT LYING ON MY BACK OR OUT OF MY MIND'
such as the frequent references to his scatty jazz method of using language and experience. ‘lt‘s always hard to answer accurately about your own stuff. I‘m a very bad commentator. I‘d quite happily tell you what I think of everyone else. People tend to pick up on the "jazz" aspect which is mentioned from time to time. Maybe it's because I can't remember anything so the material is always different each time I go out; my brain always seems to shuffle the deck. And maybe I never reproduce material because I‘d just get too bored.‘
This insistence on continuing to move forward was evident during his Edinburgh liringe run in 199‘) when he was spotted spending afternoons in the garden of the now defunct Green Tree. There he would scribble on a pad before looking to the skies for inspiration and then returning to his notes to score out or add. Of course he may have been taking time out to hone his shopping list. btrt it's almost certain that while his fellow comics were rubbing tip against each other in the rammed Pleasance Courtyard bitching about reviewers or moaning at only getting 40 tickets for the Perrier Awards party. he was still working hard and line-tuning his act. ‘l3or me. success is a feeling that you gave it a go. a proper tilt at what you had to do.’ he says. ‘l'm giving it a shot: I'm not doing it lying on my back or out of my mind.‘
If here were the slumped. boo/.ed lazysmith of popular mythology. how would he have the time to be writing a third series of the excellently loopy Black Banks? ()r rntrster the motivation to get out of bed and fly to Dublin to film The Actors with Miranda Richardson. (iabriel Byrne and Michaels (Taine and Gambon (‘l‘m way out of my depth. there’s no point in pretending othenvise' ).
It‘s actually refreshing to encounter someone who feels so ill at ease with the fame game. who has no PR verbiage to dribble forth. who phones you direct to arrange an interview (and then forgets all about it). who stumbles naturally over his words. and pauses for way too long over your inconsequential questions. There are no set jokes at the ready or hilarious anecdotes. He may not need its. But we certainly need him.
Dylan Moran plays Tron, Glasgow, Sun 2 Feb and Traverse, Edinburgh, Wed 5 Feb.