It’s probably only in Norwich that one of the biggest laughs Dara Ó Briain could draw was by drinking a glass of water.
Audiences in the city are notoriously quiet – not through any demanding superiority, but by a politeness and desire to saviour each moment – but that can lead to some eerie silences, even for sell out gig in the sizeable Theatre Royal hall.
One such hush descended while Dara paused for refreshment, prompting a comment from the Irish comedian and ironic applause and laughter whenever he next supped.
And its Dara’s impressive ability to improvise, particularly when interacting with audience members, that makes his gigs so enjoyable and unique; while some material is clearly planned, you’re left with the feeling you’ve witnessed something that will never happen again.
The first half relied heavily on his discussions with the front row, and while blisteringly funny and quick witted during the exchanges, the self-contained nature of the conversations meant the set didn’t build much momentum.
That shifted in the second half, where gags on the development of the brain – and particular the contrast between adult and children, men and women – had a clearer rhythm and bigger laughs. A riff on the depletion of helium also, rather improbably, turned out to be especially funny.
He is a warm, engaging, and very physical performer – skilfully using mime as deftly as words – and one that always rewards with an entertaining evening. And the audience made plenty of noise at the end to confirm that.