One thing to take away from Dara O’Briain’s performance in Vicar Street is that he has the clever ability to make a bunch of mid-twenties year-olds laugh, even if they are not sure what they are laughing about. Though his show last Thursday wasn’t sold out, the energy filled the room as O’Briain told various anecdotes and imagined scenarios.
Dublin was one of his final stops for his tour Voice of Reason, with extra dates being added only recently. “‘I’ve been doing this show for a year and you lot waited until the last minute to buy tickets. Will we? Won’t we? Maybe now … no no let’s wait a bit longer,” quipped O’Briain to the audience.
Jokes varied from material only an older generation would have experienced, but O’Briain was still very much aware of the twenty-something generation in the audience. Recounting a classic situation of false promises made by builders (“you know when you have builders over…” ), he described the mystical problem of “snagging” that builders enjoy mentioning when a job is stalled. “Sure half of you probably have no idea what snagging is,” joked O’Briain.
He commented to the audience that he couldn’t make that joke over in London, because half of the crowd probably would never be property holders.
He went on to hold an imaginary brick in the air, “you see this here, this is called a brick… which you will never own.” The doom and gloom of the joke wasn’t an unheard of situation for many in the audience, with some glancing at the person next them, laughing nervously while also mixed with a good sense of humour.
The improv in the first half of the show continued the steady climb of humour for the rest of the night. Not an easy task, yet O’Briain managed to find an entertaining side to every individual in the front row. A man from New York (who O’Briain kept returning to during the night with explanations, “God how do I explain who Crystal Swing is?”), a HR specialist from Linkedin (“so you fire people for a living?”), and a nervous nineteen year old (“do you know what snagging is?).
Returning after the interval, the audience were already warmed up with laughter and O’Briain took advantage of this by telling anecdote after anecdote, not leaving time for the audience to catch their breath in between laughs.
Finally, one of his final stories was the biggest hit of the night. On the screen behind him he brought up a news article that falsely reported that he had died. The article, which was “clearly fake”, as O’Briain pointed out while wildly gesturing to himself, said that he and his driver Mark Bean (“already a bad start that my driver is called Mr Bean”) fell into a “riverian” in Dublin after a night of “showbiz”.
O’Briain played off the ridiculous nature of the article and began creating a scenario of what he imagined the backstory of his driver to be and what a night of “showbiz” involved. He continued to make the story grow and grow until the audience were weak with laughter.
By the end of his set the comedian walked off stage to a standing ovation, leaving the lasting impression that O’Briain is a true master of imagination and storytelling.