Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

I Went Straight from a Kids' Book to Writing an Adult Stand-Up Show. That's a Gear Change

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

I Went Straight from a Kids' Book to Writing an Adult Stand-Up Show. That's a Gear Change

Article excerpt

As TV presenter and comedian Dara O'Briain launches his first book for children, he talks to HANNAH STEPHENSON about his fascination with space, and reveals why he chose comedy as a career

DARA O'BRIAIN loves the unusual, the quirky, the absurd - and this is clearly demonstrated in his first children's book, Beyond The Sky, about the weird and wonderful world of space.

Unlike other comedians who have written books for children - David Walliams, Russell Brand, Julian Clary and Adrian Edmondson spring to mind - Dara has followed a different course, amusing nine- to 12-year-olds and curious adults with this dip-in treat of fabulous facts which should have the kids - and adults - laughing out loud.

Did you know, for instance, that the European country astronauts always recognised at night was Belgium because it had a law that every road must be lit at night? Or that Russian astronauts used to urinate on their transfer bus tyres before boarding their rockets? These, and a host of other interesting facts about space, planets, astronauts and the stars, are featured in the book.

Dara, 45, who is currently writing material for a forthcoming mammoth stand-up tour, says he didn't try the space material out on his own kids.

"I never even thought of doing it for the same reason I don't try out new material on my wife," he says.

"As a comedy performer you don't try out your jokes on the person nearest to you, because it wears them down and puts tension in the house."

The book may at first sight seem a lighthearted look at space, but the fast-talking Irishman is a heavyweight when it comes to science. He studied mathematical physics at University College Dublin and yet gave up the chance of an academic career for stand-up comedy, which then expanded into TV presenting, hosting topical panel shows like Mock The Week as well as The Apprentice spinoff show, You're Fired.

So, why didn't he choose a Dara scientific career? "It was the sheer thrill of performance. It turned out, to my surprise, that I was a trouper, I wanted to be in front of an audience, which was a major surprise to me, because I wasn't a class clown or anything.

Dara's new "I stood in front of an audience at university doing debating and the laughs just created a surge inside.

"Suddenly the dialogue felt good and created a rush. I still feel that now, but it takes more effort - three to six months of writing a two-hour show, but it's a more substantial kind of a feeling now.

"I still get fidgety sitting in a theatre, and think I'd rather be in front of this crowd than in this crowd. That's a performer's thing."

In the six-month gap between tours, he admits he becomes restless.

"I'm happy to portray this as an appalling need for validation. I haven't been told 'I love you' by strangers in a while, so I have to get out in front of a crowd. …

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