Monday, 12 March 2012

Tickling the English

Title: Tickling the English

Author: Dara O’Briain

Number of pages: 310

Started: 7 March 2012

Finished: 12 March 2012

Opening words:

It was about one in the morning. I was in the passenger seat of a rented car on the M4. The car was being driven by a man called Damon. We were heading back to London after I’d done a gig at a theatre called the Playhouse in Weston-super-Mare.

The night had been a huge success, thanks mainly to the audience, who were chatty and interactive. In particular, there was a man called Chris who had an answer for everything. He told us how his appendix ‘went away’. He told us about the game he plays with his step-son where he lays a hammock on the ground and attaches one end of it to his car, the other to a tree. Then he accelerates away, tautening up the hammock and firing his step-son into the air.

Read a longer extract here.

Plot summary:

Nostalgia, identity, eccentricity, gin drinking and occasional violence... these are just some of the themes that stand-up comedian Dara O’Briain explores in Tickling the English.

O’Briain moved to England many years ago, but when he takes his show on tour around the country - from deserted seaside towns and remote off-shore islands, to sprawling industrial cities and sleepy suburbs - it's clear to him that his adopted home is still a bit of an enigma.

Why do the English pretend to be unhappy all the time?

Why can't they accept they rank about 5th, in everything?

And what's with all the fudge?

But this Irishman loves a challenge; he's certainly got the gregarious personality and the sure-fire wit to bring down the barriers of that famous English reserve, and have a good old rummage inside. Swapping anecdotes with his audiences and spending time wandering in their hometowns, this nosy neighbour holds England up to the light while exploring some of the attitudes he brought over here with him too.

As Dara goes door-to-door in search of England in this part tour diary, part travelogue, the result is an affectionate, hilarious and often eye-opening journey through the Sceptred Isle.

What I thought:

I like Dara O’Briain and am in fact going to see him at the Hammersmith Apollo later in the year. This book gave his observations about the English picked up from touring around the country (and to Ireland). The book was amusing, although not generally laugh out loud funny. I liked his observations about the English, although I suspect if I was of a difficult political persuasion, I might not have been quite so enamoured with what he said. I think there is a lot of truth in what he said about how we will always find the negative in even the best of news – and this reminded me why I often don’t bother to read newspapers.

It was a decent enough read, but Dara O’Briain on the stage is more amusing than on paper.

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