By Jessica Taurins
Sometimes an actor is just an actor, and sometimes an actor is their character through and through. Aside from owning a book shop, it turns out that Dylan Moran is – in more ways than one – an exact replica of his early-2000s Black Books character Bernard Black. Both are totally unkempt grouches with secret pockets of love in their heart for certain things: drinking, friendly mockery, and talking at length about how bastardly humans can be.
Moran’s current Melbourne International Comedy Festival show ‘We Got This’ was, despite the name, never likely to be a bright and fluffy affair. Even without being familiar with his acting career, Moran’s personality was immediately detectable in the way he wandered the stage and snarked at the audience for being boring. He mumbled for much of the show, partially due to his native Irish accent, and partially due to a knack for running on his sentences until his thoughts ran out.
Even now after 3+ years of living in Covid Times, it can still be heartwarming to hear stories of other people losing their minds in their homes during lockdowns. Moran empathised with Melbournians – hit almost the hardest across the world with multiple months of travel restrictions from home – and described his own struggles with being trapped inside, which led him to learning to play the organ (kind of) as well as taking up drinking again (quite successfully). Moran’s lament on the 8000 hours of time one must experience in a sober day was both funny and unfunny somehow, presented in the delightfully dry way that only could come from Moran, but with a hint of bitter sweetness as well.
Over Moran’s Covid Times he learned jazz, or at least how to bang it out on the small onstage organ using some preset keys that sounded like an upright bass. The stories told over the bass tones were exactly like jazz: drawn out and a bit confusing, but ultimately pleasant to listen to. The second go round with some accompanying singing was an enormously entertaining moment of the evening.
Moran was not one to shy away from funny-but-potentially-socially-inappropriate commentary with his musings on the changing of society to be more inclusive of queerness. To be clear, Moran maintained during his show his immense belief in letting anyone do anything so long as it remained a personal choice. But (as he mentioned many times) his formative years were in the 70s and they may perhaps have coloured his humour a little too much for his Melbourne audience, who he encouraged to lighten up a few times during the show.
Moran rounded out the show with stories of age, categorising the audience by a broad decade of their lives and the sorts of tales that come after a night out. This – and not so much the following stories about how gross genitals are, although that was widely accepted as completely true by the audience – was where Moran showed his signature wit and comedic timing.
Ending a little randomly, and then with a return to the stage to partake of a traditional Australian dessert, ‘We Got This’ was unfortunately a bit meandering, as Moran himself wandered across the stage. It was unexpected to see him lose his train of thought or trail off in the middle of a joke, but he was always able to kick back into his flow and kept the audience laughing until the very end.