Q&A: Dylan Moran

Comedian Dylan Moran has moved on from Black Books to riffing on ‘everything’ in his new show, Dr Cosmos. He tells What’s Hot New Zealand he’s looking forward to some sightseeing when he brings the show to New Zealand in October.

You’ve become a regular visitor to New Zealand over the years – what keeps bringing you back? You don’t think about it when you first start out, you know, you just go somewhere. I’ve been bouncing up and down the road now for a while, one way or another, without much of a plan. It’s a funny thing – some places and some countries you go to and you get them straight away and then there’s other ones where you go back and they’re very elusive. New Zealand’s one of the most enigmatic places there is, actually.

Are we a bit hard to work out? Yes, I think so. You’re not like anywhere else. You have echoes of lots of places but you are absolutely yourself. But the echoes are funny – what makes you laugh are remixes of sensibilities or societies.

So we’re something of a hybrid? Yes, New Zealand’s got a really interesting match-up of qualities I think – adventurous but introspective, quietly progressive. A lot of paradoxes is what comes to mind most.

Do you have any plans for while you are in the country? I think what I would like to do is see the country a bit more, the actual landscape, because it is so beautiful and I have seen a lot of towns. That’s what I would like to try and do when and where I can.

Black Books is now on Netflix – has it spawned a whole new legion of fans? Is it still on there? Yes, all that stuff is weird because the net wasn’t around when we started all this stuff but now that it’s there it creates this orbit or a belt of space junk, you know. That’s how I think of it – you name it, if you want to see an episode of Magnum PI you hit a button. Or some other cultural bygone like Black Books or Happy Days – whatever it is, there it is. That means your memories, the interaction between your neurons and the real world, is like bang, instant connection. We used to spend whole Saturday afternoons going looking for a record, you know. It just changes the way you think. Everything is forever from now on, that’s what it feels like anyway.

Any pressure to reprise the role? Shit no, I’m busy writing something else.

What do you have in store for New Zealand audiences with Dr Cosmos? Well, I’m talking about everything that has gone on and the way the wind tastes. How we’re living now, from the obvious stuff to the politics, whatever crap is on your television to what you’re talking about in your kitchen to how you feel inside to your family and everybody around you. I never set out to cover such a broad sweep of stuff but that’s what’s happened, it seems to be what I talk about now.

It would be hard to be broader than the cosmos? The joke of that is that I have the answers to everything. That’s the stupidity of that, because we live in a time of a lot of snake-oil salesmen, people telling you they do have the answer. Whether it’s Trump or Boris Johnson or whoever – people who are really all about themselves and everything they’re offering comes down to a package that is indivisible from them as a person.

So it’s like a Messiah complex? It’s just the idea of the consumerism of answers or meaning, the idea that you can elect this or that man or woman and they’re going to fix the stuff. It’s the nonsense of that, how we’re all at different speeds and in different gears of history and in different times, people becoming aware and switching on to more responsibility in a sense of what we actually have to do individually and together to save this flippin’ planet before anything else.

You’re off to Australia next – have you tuned in to our love/hate relationship yet? Well that’s a biggie, isn’t it? It’s a huge bit of your emotional weather it seems to me all the time because it’s just there, it’s a big part of your landscape. There’s definitely a sensitivity there. What seems weird to me I suppose is that there’s something parallel in Ireland and Britain but the thing that always strikes me is that it comes down to a choice as well – you can fight to feel inferior or embittered or edgy or whatever it is about the other or you can just not give a toss, you know.

You’ve performed the world over, including Ukraine and Kazakhstan – does it ever surprise you how far your comedy travels? Yes but those questions tend to come from the outside and if I ask too many of them it inhibits me so much that I can’t scratch my nose, let alone do a show. So I tend not to go there. If you are too aware of what you are up to, you’re going to stop it. I have to have a high heart and a hugely inflated sense of optimism to carry on to the next place I know nothing about in the hope that I’ll be able to connect with other people for a purpose that permanently eludes me.

Dylan Moran – Dr Cosmos

October 12 – Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington

October 15 – Christchurch Town Hall, Christchurch

October 16 – Dunedin Town Hall, Dunedin

October 18 – ASB Theatre, Auckland

October 21 – Claudelands Arena, Hamilton


Image: © Andy Hollingworth Archive