Comedian Dylan Moran: America is the “Cosmic Guinea Pig of Disorientation and Discombobulation”


Award-winning Irish comedian Dylan Moran is seriously funny. The UK knows it. The world knows it. And it’s been three years since he’s toured North America, so we were really excited to have the chance to talk with him about the new tour. The world has changed a lot since his 2013 tour, so he has a lot to talk about. You’ll hear his takes on love, misery, the everyday absurdities of life and yes, the 2016 election in America, all delivered with his own unique poetical panache.  He’s been called The Oscar Wilde of Comedy by the London Evening News. He’s starred in the hugely popular films Shaun of the Dead, Run Fatboy Run, Notting Hill and the 2014 film Calvary alongside Brendan Gleeson and Chris O’Dowd.

Dylan is in high demand around the world, so you don’t know when he’ll get back here again, and stand up isn’t his only passion. What I’m saying is, if Dylan is coming to your city, cancel any plans you have including weddings and births, and go check him out. Off the Hook has received rave reviews and is touring from October 14 through November 12.

The Interrobang: How’s the North American part of the tour going so far?

Dylan Moran: Yes. Well, we just started, really. We’ve had a couple of shows in Toronto and Ottawa and they were fun. I’m just kind of back in the saddle after a while. It’s been a few months since I’ve been on the road with this show, so obviously it’s changed a bit, and I’m talking about what’s going on, obviously. You can’t not talk about what’s going on because what’s going on is so weird. At the same time, everybody who’s going to be there, say in New York, is there on the night of the last debate. The New York show is the first show in America in the States. Presumably, everybody who’s there is sick of it as well. They want to think about other things, which I completely understand. It is wraparound. Even I’m getting tired of it.

The Interrobang: There’s always something new though, isn’t there?

Dylan Moran: Yes, there is. You think, “Okay, well he’s hit bottom now,” and then he surprises you. He produces another super shovel from his back pocket. He seems to be determined to tunnel his way to the center of the Earth.

The Interrobang: Do you talk about America differently to Canada than you do to America?

Dylan Moran: No. The only thing I tried to do while I’m here obviously, is I’m trying to work out the relationship from their point of view. I think I kind of know the spectrum of feelings that Canada has about America. It’s a weird….people always compare countries that are historically linked or have a big border like you as brothers, and it is often like that. It’s a sort of a relationship where they can insult each other and mock each other, but if you as an outsider, if somebody said to you, “My brother’s an asshole,” and you said, “Yes, he is,” you’re going to get punched in the face.

The Interrobang: Absolutely, and there’s probably a bit of a difference even from Toronto to Ottawa, which were the two nights you did.

Dylan Moran: Oh yes, definitely. Completely. I was wondering recently why Canada has such a reputation for being polite, and part of the reason might just be climactic, because if you wake up and suddenly your car and your house and your dog are all dropped in the snow, you better have been nice to people if they’re going to help you out.

The Interrobang: This is your second U.S. tour. It’s only been a few years, but it feels like the world is changing at such a fast pace that you’re dealing with an entirely different universe now.

Dylan Moran: Yes. That’s exactly right. It is. The rate of change is completely breakneck. If you try and keep up with it, you are just going to do yourself an injury. It’s completely impossible, and that is both overwhelming and oppressive and liberating at the same time. You can choose to be oppressed by it or you can choose to be liberated by it, so after a while of being trapped in the former, I’ve chosen the latter, because you have to look on the positive side. A great opportunity can make hay for anybody who’s performing or writing about what’s going on, because there’s this feeling of everything being intimately linked one way or the other.

The Interrobang: Do you need time to process the world changes before you can use some of that onstage?

Dylan Moran: No, no. I’ve given up trying to process. I know that’s one of the American phrases du jour, processing, but it’s nonsense. You cannot process this. It’s too fast, it’s too various. There’s too much of it. It doesn’t stop. How big is your process? That’s what I want to know. Unless everybody’s walking around in some sort of psychological industrialist state in their heads, you cannot process this shit too much.

The Interrobang: With the world getting smaller, and everything becoming more universal, does that change your comedy?

Dylan Moran: Well, no. It’s a question of your attitude to it. I use everything. I just use everything I can that comes along. In one way, I emphasize national differences or border differences or cultural differences between places, between America and Europe, say, and then on the flip side, it’s much easier to feel like wherever I travel that I am one of you, because I have absorbed so much media from America in particular. America would be without question the world leader in that sense for Europeans.

Recently, just yesterday or today, the channel Russia Today had their bank account frozen in Britain. The reason for that is there’s an information war going on as well as everything that’s happening in Syria and in the Ukraine. But Putin said that he wanted the channel to be accounted to the control over the information stream from the anglosphere. That’s sort of an extraordinary measure.

Americans do control the information here, largely. I get most of my news and opinion and editorials from America. A lot of the time, I don’t stay informed on the British ones an awful lot, so it’s not difficult to feel like I’m one of you. Do you know what I mean?

The Interrobang: Yeah. There is an overload of input coming from the U.S. Are Americans moving faster, too fast compared to the rest of the world?

Dylan Moran: I don’t know how you judge if it’s too fast or not. To me, it feels incredibly fast, but I’m from the country. The thing is whatever happens, it seems to happen to America first. You’re the cosmic guinea pig of disorientation and discombobulation.

The Interrobang: What does everybody overseas think of what’s going on in the election here in the U.S.? Do they just think that Trump’s a lunatic? Do they think America has lost its mind? How are we looking over there?

Dylan Moran: Well, I think apart from the obvious pantomime cartoon villain aspect of it, he himself [Trump] is entirely irrelevant. He’s a non-entity. He doesn’t matter at all, but what does matter is how America’s political system has failed to respond to the changing demographics of the population.

Where’s the young, dynamic people who are going to represent America that wants to institute the changes it needs

Forget about Trump for a minute. We talk about him all the time because he’s easy to talk about, but the fact is that both camps, is they’re old, relatively speaking. They’re not young people. Where’s the young, dynamic people who are going to represent America that wants to institute the changes it needs and so on? Everybody looks at it and just thinks it does seem very divided. It does seem very divided, the fault line of the gun lobby and the red states and the people who are really hearkening back at an America that is disappearing, that industrial base and so on. It’s really obviously very hard for people. I don’t make jokes about people who are feeling confused or trying to adapt. It’s pretty overwhelming, that kind of change, but do we think he’s a clown? Sure we do. Yes, of course. Everybody knows he’s an idiot.

The Interrobang: It’s funny what you said about age. It’s really pretty brilliant. It’s also a fairly simple thing that isn’t a part of the conversation here as much as you’d expect.

Dylan Moran: Yes. I think it’s really, really odd, really odd. You compare him to somebody like Justin Trudeau, who looks like he’s just Captain Shazam, isn’t he? He’s got everything. He’s positive. He’s articulate. He’s criminally telegenic and a very good communicator. It’s a different world up here, I’ll tell you.

The Interrobang: How does it feel to be back on tour, back traveling around? Is it hard to stay in the headspace you need to be in with all the travel?

Dylan Moran: Well, I don’t know. I can’t really describe it. Every day I’m writing stuff down and I’m rearranging things and I’m trying to remember other bits and reorder what I’m doing and include something that might have happened the last couple of days. There’s a whole host of references. I walk around with my own version of the cloud in my head, or several different clouds, different weather systems, and they all impact on one another. I don’t try to have everything perfect or in a box, if you like, or neatly filed in a box every day. That doesn’t work for me. Every day’s gumball has a different flavor. I’m not quite sure what it’s going to be.

The Interrobang: That’s pretty exciting, though.

Dylan Moran: Yes. It keeps you awake.

The Interrobang: You’ve done obviously so many different things, television, movies. You’ve collaborated with some other of the most brilliant minds in comedy. Is stand up what you love to do most, or is it all even?

Dylan Moran: Yes. What I like, I like the mix. I like being able to mix it up. Stand up probably is the sort of mainstay for me. It’s my sort of clearing house. It’s where I try to fuse it or process things as much as one can. It’s my sorting office where I say, “Okay, well, this isn’t working out in stand up, but maybe I can write a script with this idea or this concept.” I’m working on a couple of pilots as well. It’s my thinking room. It’s my study.

The Interrobang: Stand up is pretty much a solo event, whereas everything else is so much more collaborative. Do you have a preference between those two types of ways to work?

Dylan Moran: Well, again, it’s just a mix. It’s very nice to be able to work with a bunch of people if you’ve been just walking back and forth on the floor between your ears for a long time. It’s nice to be able to jump out of that and depend on other people and have them rely on you doing something together.

The Interrobang: Are you still doing your drawings?

Dylan Moran: Yes. The show has a backdrop of stuff, of drawings, of paintings, drawings, scribbling, whatever, cartoons, throughout it. Next year, I’m not going to tour. I’m going to do more of that. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll put a book out or something, but I’m definitely going to spend some more time at a desk next year after I’ve tied down the end of this tour. America is the end of the tour. I am then officially dragging it into an alley and hitting it in the head.

The Interrobang: What about down time? What is your go-to during your time off?

Dylan Moran: I love music, I listen to a lot of Jazz, classical, everything, but probably Jazz and Blues mostly. Pop and Rock, all of it. To be honest with you, this is my life. I’m always trying to write something or drill something. That’s it for me. There’s no work and relaxing and recreation and going crazy and feeling stress. They’re all part of the same enchilada.

Dylan Moran is making his way across North America with his Off the Hook Tour. Visit Dylan Moran’s website for tour info and tickets, and you can catch him kick off his U.S. dates in New York City Wednesday October 19th.

Watch his appearance on Conan below.

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