Tesco must have mellowed in the last couple of years. Right at the beginning of this gig, Dara O’Briain says he wanted to call as previous DVD Craic Dealer, but was prevented from doing so because a big retailer who likes to think ‘Every Little Helps’ refused to stock a disc with that name, as they felt it condoned drug use. As Dara points out, it’s very unlikely anyone is holding back on cocaine use, but would be tipped over the edge by seeing his DVD (btw, Craic is an Irish word for fun, in case you didn’t know). However now the title is back and I’ve noticed it’s for sale on Tesco’s website, so they must have had a change of heart.
While Dara occasionally has a tendency to be a little arrogant, here he’s in fine form taking on a range of topics, such as his love of debunking hucksters like psychics and astrologers. Indeed this is probably the funniest bit, where he suggests there are parallels between astrology and racism in the way it arbitrarily groups people together and makes sweeping judgements about them that have little basis in proven fact. His idea that rather than having an astrologer on breakfast TV, they ought to bring in a racist to predict what will be happening to various ethnic groups over the coming week is genius.
He also manages to deftly handle the difficulties of fame in a way few comedians manage. Indeed it’s odd, because as I’ve said O’Briain can sometimes seem arrogant, and the trappings of fame are normally where a comedian’s self-regard really starts to show through. But oddly Dara seems more everyman than he normally does when talking about how he can’t go anywhere without becoming someone’s status update, along with accompanying camera-phone picture.
He’s witty, assured, confident and manages to balance a sometimes exasperated eye with a levity and unexpectedly childlike attitude. When he’s doing Mission: Impossible style moves, acting out how he tries to trick his motion sensor burglar alarm or he’s wondering about the strange things he’s told not to talk about at corporate gigs (like him, I’d like to know why a pet supply manufacturer was so worried about him bringing up the RSPCA) he shows a mischievous outlook that’s difficult not to like.
While he obviously loves chatting with the audience and riffing on what they say, there’s less of a reliance on that here than there has been with some of his previous DVDs. Inevitably chatting with the audience can be a bit hit and miss, and it’s also less exciting when watching it on DVD that it probably is when it’s live. Although he’s very good at it, here he doesn’t rely on it, using it enough to have a bit of funny improv and build a connection with the audience, without it starting to seem like padding.
At the start, O’Briain suggests he wants the gig to be like an incident in Oban a couple of years, when a firework display went wrong and every rocket went off in under a minute (I should point out he wants the gig to be a crammed and ‘epic’ rather than to go wrong). Although it might not quite be that, he certainly tries his damnedest with a very funny, crowd-pleasing set that’ll make his broad fanbase laugh a lot. O’Briain is one of those comedians who really looks like he’s having fun on stage, and that also helps make this a relaxed disc that it’s easy just to have fun with.
Overall Verdict: O’Briain is one of the most dependable comics working today, able to find great wit in the world around him and even his rants have a mischievous, endearing quality about them. Craic Dealer is a funny release that sees him on top form, providing plenty of laughs.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac