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Off-Book, More or Less

Irish comedian Dylan Moran has been called the Oscar Wilde of standup, but there are flaws in that comparison. He’s far too rumpled, frequently mussing his shaggy hair. With cigarettes and a glass of white wine at the ready, Moran sails and staggers through his biting routine, which plays like an artful stream of consciousness. Well known in the U.K. for both standup and his award-winning sitcom Black Books, Moran’s in a chatty mood — despite battling “a raging flu” — as we speak via phone to discuss his upcoming Los Angeles debut with his show, Monster. Though his targets range from hip-hop to the French to children (“They’re like miniature drunks, basically”), Moran does dabble in political issues, but cautions against using political comedy as a sermon. “You have got to be careful because what most comedians doing political material forget is that their opinions count for naught. What matters is how they present [it].” Moran has already had a successful run with Monster in New York, where his eloquent rambling style met with great praise. “I’m on book a lot more than I appear to be.” Stepping away from the script — or the occasional heckler, which he admits he gets precious few of in the States — is surely what keeps things interesting. “It’s a mix, you know, you don’t want to know too much what you’re going to do, or then you bore yourself. I couldn’t do a play every night. I would die, or I would replace the props with real knives so you could kill me afterward, because I wouldn’t be able to hack it.” How much arm twisting went into the decision to play L.A. — a city he once declared that he’d never voluntarily return to? “Did I say that?” he ponders. “I was there for very different reasons before, I guess. I was pitching a program. I don’t pretend to understand the system. I just know that it scared the shit out of me. [U.K. television series run six or seven episodes.] I was looking at this contract that said ‘locked for life.’ The idea of 20 episodes a year just makes me want to lie down in a wet field.” Dylan Moran performs Monster at UCLA’s Macgowan Little Theater, April 13–May 1. (310) 825-2101; www.uclalive.org.


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