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`I have a vicious contempt for youth'.

you don't laugh at O Briain, check your pulse - you must be dead."

Now O Briain is loving his major-league national tour.

"I love the variety you see when you're travelling about England," enthuses the comic, taking a sip from an orange juice in a trendy north London bar.

"Ireland is quite small and uniform, and that is also the image that Britain has. But when you go around it, you find that Britain is in fact fantastically diverse and multi-cultural. That's really underrated."

The comedian, a tall, immensely warm man, covers a number of topics during the course of the current tour. So what can we expect in Huddersfield? He starts by addressing that old favourite of stand-ups: nationality.

"I'm based in London now," reveals the Irishman, who enjoyed a sold-out run at the Edinburgh Festival last summer.

"When you're a fisherman, you have to live by the sea. In the same way, if you're a comedian and you have the chance to work with Stephen Fry and Paul Merton, you're not going to commute over from Dublin. London is too beautiful a place to do stand-up - you've got to be here.

"But that means," he adds with a wicked grin, "that I'm going to have English children - and I've got to get over that! What perturbs me most is the thought of hanging on to unnecessary parts of the old country - there should be no set model of society that we are obliged to hold on to. Fear of change and nostalgia for a lost golden age are appalling traits.

"The Irish also have this knee-jerk idea that we're smarter than the Brits.

"I remember one Irish girl telling me in a London pub, `They don't even speak English as good as we do!' There was a pause while we thought: `Did she really say that?'"

In addition, O Briain, who has just turned 33, will tackle the thorny topic of getting older "and my vicious contempt for youth. Youth is shoved down our throats all the time - it's over-promoted as the only valid way of life.

"When you're 33, you're suddenly half a generation away from youth culture and for the first time you're seeing things like musical movements that you don't understand. Also, the wedding and christening invitations are starting to pile up."

In a routine that will strike a chord with many a couch potato, O Briain will also indulge in "an anti-gym" rant.

"I was given a gift of some sessions with a personal trainer. She's going to come round to my house and shout things like `Max it to the extreme' and `Feel the rip'.

"Then she's going to take me to the park and kick the shit out of me while people in the surrounding tower-blocks laugh at me. I'm not sure if my fitness is worth the humiliation. Maybe it's like Orwell or Brat Camp - they need to break me before rebuilding me in a world of salad."

The comedian does acknowledge that "Fitness is a good thing, but it's just such a chore. Also, being a stand-up is not a lifestyle that lends itself very well to it. On tour last year, after the show I'd sit in my hotel room in somewhere like Selby, drinking eight cans of cider and watching the African Nations' Football Tournament on the telly. It's very difficult to find a low-carb salad at 11.30 at night in Selby."

Before he heads off, clutching his dry-cleaned suit for yet another TV appearance, O Briain pauses for a moment. He is keen to clarify exactly what his tour entails.

"I don't want people to get the idea that it's me talking about rucksacks and holidays in space all the time," he smiles, before adding: "It's basically just me messing with people."

And, as the good burghers of Halifax, Windsor and Gloucester can testify, what could be funnier than that?

* Dara O Briain's show at the LBT, Huddersfield on May 27 is sold out.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 20, 2005
Previous Article:Geoff's busy music career.
Next Article:OlA! OlA!

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