If you are American and recognize the name Dylan Moran, or the tousled haircut that belongs to it, then you probably know the Irish comedian from his phenomenal Channel 4 series Black Books, or his supporting role in Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead. In the former, which is available to binge on Netflix, Moran played Bernard Black, the unenthusiastic owner of the titular bookshop who spends most of his time drinking, sleeping and generally avoiding anything having to do with work. In the latter, he plays David, the annoying friend of Shaun’s (Simon Pegg) crush who gets his comeuppance in the penultimate scene.
Long before Moran ever pursued careers in television and film, however, the 45-year-old wordsmith got his start as a stand-up in 1992. Known largely for his astute mixture of satirical witticisms and deadpan observations, the Irish entertainer has produced five stand-up specials (and a greatest hits collection) during the past 15 years. His next tour, dubbed Grumbling Mustard for a rather ridiculous but wonderful reason, kicked off its inaugural North American leg with a string of dates in New York, Washington D.C. and Boston in last September. It continues through October 12th with stops in Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans before Moran heads back home to workshop it some more.
A tired but conversational Moran spoke with Uproxx about the tour, his plans for future dates in the spring, and how he treads the fine comedic line between riffing about Donald Trump and delving into carefully prepared (and personal) material.
Did you get any sleep after last night?
I did, I did. Though I spent the evening with some whiskey, so I am currently speaking to you with one eye open.
No worries. I’m glad you got some sleep, at least. It was a very enjoyable show.
I enjoyed it, you know? It was fun last night, especially the beginning of the second half. All of the riffing was fun.
There was a moment in the second half when you said, “You guys like the riffing, but there’s all this other stuff I’ve prepared.” Do you prefer riffing, sticking to the script, or some combination?
Well, I’m trying to do it again and again after the last show that came before it. Back then I went out and it was pretty much everything, and I went everywhere. But by the end, it was set because I was playing it all over the world, so I couldn’t mess around in the way I can now because I wasn’t always speaking to an English language audience. English was a second language for them, and I want to be able to communicate with them, which meant I had to be careful with what I said. But with this, I’m enjoying messing around more with the language again.
People laugh at it a lot, and sometimes you write something — maybe because it’s in the news or whatever — and think, “Okay, these people will know what I’m talking about here,” and it works for them. Sometimes that doesn’t work at all. It’s this kind of off-the-cuff nonsense for them, really, and I’m just paying attention to what the audience wants. You do this for so many years, and in so many different ways, but this time around, I suppose, this is what I want to do. I want to mess around with the language and see what the audience latches onto. On the whole, it seems to work out. It’s a symbiotic thing. They seem to be interested in what I’m interested in.
Considering the daily deluge we Americans are currently witnessing, it seems we’re primed for current events material.
I think so, at least. Isn’t it interesting? Especially last night, toward the beginning when I was talking about wanting to give the audience a couple of Trump-free hours. There was a big reaction to that. People really are affected by the daily crap. They really seem excited for a little bit of relief, is all I’m saying, but they’re also happy when you really dig into what’s happening in the world, just everywhere.