Dylan Moran: 'I'm organising the squirrels'

Dylan Moran: 'I'm organising the squirrels'

Andy Hollingworth

As the much-loved comedian returns with another semi-surrealistic show, we talk to him about the allure of Edinburgh and the importance of not being earnest

Affable and chatty, Dylan Moran in the flesh is far from the curmudgeonly character he once portrayed over three series of Channel 4 sitcom Black Books. Apologising for taking us down some 'philosophical rabbit holes', he's sipping Americanos and water, and doodling frequently on his notepad as we chat in a café in Edinburgh, the city he has called home for over two decades. It's the place where he scored glory in 1996 by becoming, at the age of 24, the youngest winner of the Perrier Award.

Newspapers the following day showed a tired and emotional Moran slumped with his prize, cementing another of his public tropes: that of the artistic Irishman who takes a drink. These days, he certainly seems content and relaxed in his own skin, even if the weight of the world is trying to land itself on his shoulders. 'I find it easier than I did 25 years ago, because I don't care,' he suggests when asked whether he feels blue about the state of the planet as he wakes up of a morning. 'That's the gift that age gives you. You learn that you cannot care. There is a level of care that you just cannot sustain, and people who say that you are diminishing your humanity if you switch off are wrong. That is my contention.'

Whether he really is so distant towards the current domestic and global crises that constantly swirl around our heads might be open to debate. Certainly his humour has long preferred to focus on giddy imagery, semi-surrealist meanderings and flights of evocative phrasing that are way beyond the wildest dreams of his competitors in the field.

As Moran prepares to deliver Dr Cosmos across various venues in the capital, he pays little heed to those who might downplay the Edinburgh Festival. After all, this month-long jamboree ultimately proved a boon to his career which led to movie roles in the likes of Shaun of the Dead and Calvary, plus memorable TV roles such as Bernard Black in Black Books and Ian Lyons in How Do You Want Me?. 'This is the comedy stream of the world and all the salmon come here to mosh and die. It's an incredible phenomenon; you can't say it's good or it's bad: it's like talking about a nebula or a cluster of stars. It's just a huge and incredible thing. How can you do anything other than marvel that it happens every year?'

A gifted writer and a deep thinker, Moran nevertheless insists that profundity is not what he's here to offer. 'I want people to come in and have a great time and go home feeling better. I'm not going to ask people to understand anything too complicated or anything that I feel can't be understood. A lot of it is about pulling the squirrels out of the bag and giving them a name or a number. I'm organising the squirrels.'

Dylan Moran: Dr Cosmos, The Stand New Town Theatre, George Street, 14 Aug, 7.20pm; The Stand, York Place, 15–19 Aug, 6.30pm; Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre, Rose Street, 22–26 Aug, 7.30pm; Assembly Hall, The Mound, 23–25 Aug, 9.10pm. All shows £17.50.

Dylan Moran: Dr Cosmos

Curmudgeonly Irish stand-up who wrote and starred in the TV sitcom Black Books.

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