In October Dylan Moran will tour New Zealand. Karl Puschmann spoke to the comedian to find out all about his new show.
Dylan Moran's new stand-up comedy show is called Dr Cosmos. It's a spacey title permeated with the galactic excesses and indulgences of prog rock. So, has the famously grounded observational comedian blasted off and gone a little bit prog?
"That's the first time I've heard that," he says with delight, after roaring with laughter. "Very good, you've got it. You're on the money for at least one of the strands on it. There's a bit of that. That's really funny. There's a feel of that but also it's a kind of blues thing and a hoodoo voodoo thing . . . a Cajun thing almost."
Those are some spicy, if disparate, influences, so what's the common link?
"It's the idea of a medicine man," he answers. "Because there are so many soapbox w***ers around. Popular politicians like Trump and Boris Johnson and those other f***ing hoodlums. We live in one of those times where everybody's tub-thumping and its all down to these populist megaphone drones who are just channelling popular rage."
Where's all this rage coming from? Racists and sexists and homophobes have always been around, what's different now?
"It's because people are freaking out at the acceleration of technologisation of their lives and their own inability to track what they're supposed to do next or how they're supposed to be or what they should accept and what they can comfortably reject," he answers. "People have lost their sense of self everywhere. They've been looking outward for so long in consumerism they've lost touch with their own conscious or guiding voice, their adult self, or whatever you want to call it. They're just out of their own loop."
He sums up by saying, "So, you know, it's all that s***," and then he laughs again.
As you can see Moran doesn't shy away from the big topics. Throughout his career he's held truth to power whether discussing religion, politics or just the state of humanity. How does he feel about tackling these topics now, in times as fraught and divisive as these?
"I've never seen it seem so necessary," he replies, a serious edge to his answer. "I never thought it would be necessary in the way it seems to be necessary now. I can't believe I'm living in such a time. But at the same time it's the most ordinary thing in the world."
It's a little like we're being conditioned to this kind of rhetoric.
"Yeah, Well it is," he agrees. "It's the most banal cycle in history ever. It's incredible what people are prepared to forget. It's amazing. But it does feel like a tide going in and a tide going out in history on one level," then chuckling he says, "Christ, it has to go back."
So, why are people enamoured by these, in your words, "soapbox w***ers" like Donald Trump. Boris Johnson and the leader of the UK's Brexit Party, Nigel Farage?
"Well, Johnson is not unsophisticated politically," Moran says presciently, considering our interview occurs a couple of weeks before Johnson replaced Theresa May as the UK's new PM. "He's working many more levels than the other two combined. He knows a lot more about politics than the other two. Trump is an extraordinary phenomenon or moment in history."
Then, Moran gives one of the greatest, cutting, poetic descriptions of Trump I've ever heard.
"As an individual he counts for nothing. He literally presents nothing to even detain you. Nothing. You can pass through him as a subject matter as you can air. He is non-existent. As an individual he does not amount to anything that would construe a stopping point for you to consider. But, as an event he is of interest because he is literally the breaking of a boil on the surface of society. He is an eruption in history of a sea of rage that had not had a big voice before. And now it has the most powerful voice in the world. Unfortunately."
Not wanting to end our chat on hate, I mention that the press release for Dr Cosmos says another of the subject's he'll be riffing on is love. Is love funny?
"Love is . . . ahhhh…," he sighs warmly. "Love is everything. Love is endlessly funny. It's everything."
Yeah, okay, but is it funny?
"Yes! It's funny," he exclaims. "It's funny, with it being along with everything else; hope and despair and bliss and terror and . . . and chocolates and fizzy wine and tuxedos and shiny shoes and passing out and holding someone's hair as both of you vomit."
Then Moran starts cracking up and with mock exasperation says, "I mean, come on! What do you want? It's got everything."
Who: Dylan Moran
What: Performing his new stand-up show Dr Cosmos.
When: Auckland's ASB Theatre, Friday, October 18. Touring NZ from Saturday, October 12.