Comedy Review: Dara O’Briain VOICE OF REASON – The Lowry, Salford

Dara OBriain Voice of Reason

With VOICE OF REASON, Dara O’Briain delivers yet another universally humorous show, littered with intelligent observations and a crowd-pleasing climax

Arguably one of the most recognisable and popular faces of UK comedy circuit today, Dara O’Briain is one of the busiest touring comedians at the moment. Alongside hosting shows such as MOCK THE WEEK and the more scientific STARGAZING alongside Manchester’s very own Professor Brian Cox – a job that he’s more than happy to admit to us is a work in progress with many Twitter trolls regularly delighting in critiquing his hosting styles and abilities – O’Briain is touring with his latest stand-up show VOICE OF REASON.

A little skit and self-mockery of his wingman aptitude follow but he quips, “That’s why I’m paid the BBC bucks right, not just the big bucks, but the BBC ‘male’ big bucks, which is like 40% more, right?!” The gag is taken in the context it was delivered and chortles from the audience who are sitting just a few meters away from the Northern BBC studios recently housed in the heart of Salford’s Quays. The show then kicks off with O’Briain delivering his material at break-neck speed to begin.

Lightning fast, O’Briain jumps from one stream of consciousness to another, his tangents at times leaving you tripping to keep up with the comedian’s train of thought but ultimately always connecting the audience back together. As he links a theme or a previous joke into a ramble or a rant brought on by another thought, you can almost see O’Briain’s neurons firing like a pinball machine right in front of your eyes. I found myself utterly caught up in the energy on the stage, chaotic at times but seamless, as he nears the end of the leg of the tour, the flow of the main body well rehearsed.

O’Briain’s early routine focuses mainly on middle-aged problems, such as his current situation of virtually living with builders in his house. He teases a twenty-one-year-old lad in the second row about having no clue as to what ‘snagging’ is, the generation that would probably never even understand the concept of owning anything brick and mortar. Tying his twenties to his forties, he tells the tale of his second leg tour of the Australian comedy festival circuit, his first being when he was an adventurous 29-year-old and his yearning to get back to those tearaway days on the road, away from the mundane responsibilities of his current state of settlement. The culmination of the tale ends up in a Burlesque bar in Perth with a biker gang and a Glaswegian dancer, tying the early material together nicely!

O’Briain then turns his attention to the front row, fair game if you’ve come to a comedy gig after all. Ad-libbing with the crowd individually acting as if he were a guest at a dinner party and demonstrating exactly the reasons why you should never invite him as a guest to yours. The crowd interaction is highly effective and whilst engaging the audience members, asking about occupations, relationships to one another etcetera, he is obviously feeding lines he can use later in the show, interweaving the crowd work into the script well as he bounces back and forth to a Father, Son Mechanic and talkative Customer Services advisor duo several times. A bloke from Ellesmere Port, upon being asked, was oblivious as to where the ships come from and has only ever noticed them leaving, “Kind of a reverse Hotel California then I guess?” he comes back to this several times and his nerdy side reveals itself when, returning from the intermission, he’s actually looked up Ellesmere port and schools us all!

Next comes his Fake News routine. It is at this point that you begin to see that it isn’t chaos up on stage, but a carefully engineered structure of subjects, sailing from one to the next, hosting Robot Wars, Brexit, virtual reality and how it would be far more popular if only they’d introduce it to the porn industry…but also using a simple premise and building momentum, demonstrating the hilarious and farcical reasons why they almost certainly, no definitely shouldn’t!

With VOICE OF REASON, the Irishman delivers yet another universally humorous show, littered with intelligent observations and with an intricacy that eventually and hilariously unveils itself with a crowd-pleasing climax.

5 out of 5 stars

Dara O’Briain VOICE OF REASON performed at The Lowry, Salford on 6 December 2018.