Comic Dylan Moran On How to Lose Your Baggage When Traveling Abroad
Photo by Andy Hollingworth
Dylan Moran, the star of the British sitcomBlack Books
and actor in movies such asShaun of the Dead
andRun, Fatboy, Run
-- and who is now writinga pilot for ABC
-- spoke to Mixmaster about what topics he plans to tackle when he takes tothe Lakewood Theater's stage tonight
. Be prepared to see stereotypes disassembled and to learn how to be subversive and funny in an autocracy like Russia -- or the United States.
I imagine it must be challenging for an Irish comedian to play for a general audience in our state in some respects. The thing for me to consider is to ditch my own baggage, if you like, when I get there because you have a reputation that precedes you as a state. So I have to do as much as possible to swing that out and absorb the reality of what it's like when I'm there. If I come in with a suitcase full of prejudice, then I'm not going to learn anything.
Is that what every show is about for you, this cultural learning experience? A lot of it is for me, yeah. The great thing about stereotypes is it's kind of where you start from but that's just what you use to open the box and get to whatever is in there and that goes for anywhere, Russia or Ireland or anywhere. If you just play familiar territory all the time, you get complacent. You generally know where everyone's operating systems are.
Is there a challenge or difference when you play American audiences compared with others? Do you have to tailor the material or have anything you can't talk about? No, there's nothing I won't talk about. It's not the subject, it's how you treat it. That's what it's all about. Nothing is off the table, as Americans are so fond of saying. There's no real strategy. I just try to find out what the hell is going on wherever I am as soon as I get there. So I ask a lot of questions to people working in restaurants or cabs or the hotel, anybody I can find. Somebody running the gig with me will sit down and have a cup of coffee with me and I'll fire off certain questions. I'm not looking for the definitive answer. I'm just looking for what everyone's talking about, whatever it is and just get what I can.
I imagine you're boning up on American politics thanks to the way things are going with the government shutdown and the debt ceiling. You probably don't have to seek it out. Yeah, it's everywhere...
I imagine you're boning up on American politics thanks to the way things are going with the government shutdown and the debt ceiling. You probably don't have to seek it out. Yeah, it's everywhere... It's the lead item on the news a lot these days. ...Everybody's kind of crapping themselves because of the consequences of the tantrum-throwing, obstructionist politics that's going on because it doesn't just affect American jobs but it affects Europe as well and everybody's worried about making a living.
Do people confuse you as a person with your movie and TV performances like Bernard Black from Black Books? It feels like you're two different people. Well, if I really was the Bernard Black character, I'd be dead or in jail now. There's a streak of that in me. I hope I'm a little more balanced and well-rounded and boring.
I read that you're the first English speaking comic to do a show in Russia. Did you use a translator? We did for the first show, and we discovered we didn't really need it. The first show was not entirely smooth. It was good and people were great but I kind of lost them towards the end but then I got them back. I was a little nervous about connecting with people and would they understand me. The next one was much, much better. It was a great night. That's one instance of what I mean about dumping all your prejudice because you hear about Russia and the Russians but what you're hearing about is the government and the administration. They're totally different things when you're having a couple of beers or a cup of coffee with a Russian person. They are worlds away.
Was it scary to do political humor in that country? It's an autocracy and there are limited freedoms compared to America but America has its own form of censorship as well, like what can and can't go on prime time TV and so on. You make some of the most interesting television in the world and there's a renaissance of that on cable, but the stuff that has to meet the consensus of what's admissible and what can be disseminated is such a huge thing. There's actually some huge parallels between America and Russia. You'd be shocked at some of the parallel lines over some things.
I think politics is an extension of somebody's well being or emotional state, really. It comes out where you see people speaking or people of different strifes will make their appeal to the public and they'll often use emotional languages. The speeches end with telling you to preserve the integrity, safety and harmony of the American people.
That's a big phrase. I've noticed how often it recurs on the final reel of a lot of movies that have come out of Hollywood in the last couple of years. You know, these movies where the White House is often being bombed or something like that.
There's two of them now. Yeah, maybe they'll take it to the next level with these shark movies. You know how you have Shark vs. Octopus or Sharknado? They need to do one in the White House and have a shark explosion in the Oval Office.
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