Irish-born comedian Dylan Moran, perhaps best known for his bitingly funny BBC television series Black Books, has spent a good chunk in recent years performing for crowds in Russia, Europe, Australia and South Africa.
Now Moran, who now calls Scotland home, is in the midst of an ambitious and lengthy Canadian trek. The Grumbling Mustard tour kicked off in Halifax on June 5 and wraps up in Vancouver on June 21. He says this jaunt is a bit different than his 2016 Off The Hook North American trek which saw a few border crossings along the way. He says he noticed subtle differences immediately between Canadian locales and those Stateside.
“It was a totally different experience,” Moran says. “Really inevitably Canada gets compared to the States a lot globally, your near neighbour . So I was struck by how the pace of life reminded me much more of Scotland and Ireland than America.
“I have to say there are really, really extraordinary moments and parallels of feelings that you get just walking around Canadian cities. I’m in Halifax right now and Halifax has a feel of a really large, really developed Scottish coastal town, it really reminded me of some of those. And the people make time for one another in a different way, I relate to that. I like the value that people make the time for each other in conversation and the idea that it’s worthwhile to stop and chat in a meaningful way.”
Moran, who also had roles in Notting Hill and Shaun Of The Dead, laughs when told how apt the Grumbling Mustard tour name is as mustard is one item Canada is currently placing a tariff on in its trade war with America. He says he thinks Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a lot of assets from an international perspective.
“He’s very much the modern politician,” Moran says. “He’s strikingly capable, confident, comfortable. Personally, I’m sure there’s a lot of domestic issues with personalities but on the global stage, I have to say he cuts a pretty optimistic-generating kind of figure. You have to say he looks pretty good in contrast to his near neighbour.
I think a lot of people would prefer if Canada had a lunatic at the helm and America had somebody like Justin Trudeau. Globally Trudeau represents or highlights that division between the Trump-ist mindset and a modern outlook that Trudeau embodies for a global audience.”
And while Moran usually doesn’t toss much political material into his shows, he feels U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 election win was the result of “a perfect storm of conditions.”
“I’m talking about someone I have absolutely no interest in and I’ll try to talk about him for a minimum of time because there’s not even enough human personality there to give me any material to get stuck into this wreck of a person,” he says. “As a symptom of the times, he’s extremely interesting. He was allowed to come to the fore because of a few things going on. The hollowing out of that whole job sector that people relied on for generations, factories and manufacturing, that’s gone.
“I think he only understands economics. If he understands anything it’s economics because he has a chop-first mentality which is extremely useful if you’re running businesses but not something complex like a country, or something like the only remaining empire in the world. So he’s there because people are angry and they’re scared about the future. He’s the perfect windbag which was fused to invent the rage.”
Meanwhile Moran says he never stops coming up with new material for his performances.
“It’s such a long gradual process and it runs at times at different speeds,” he says. “There are times when you think ‘okay, what’s the next tour going to be about’ and you’re scratching around. For me I’m constantly…I’ve got a workshop if you like and I’m constantly throwing stuff there. And then time goes by and it’s time to do another show and I go into the workshop and go, ‘What have I got?’ and I start assembling things.”
As for Black Books, Moran says there are no plans to revive the series or make a musical from it. During its run there were brief talks about possibly creating a version for American television but “back then smoking and drinking on American TV was a no-no”. Yet he’s still pleasantly surprised by its popularity almost 15 years after its last episode.
“It’s funny you mention it actually because I almost never think of it as Black Books,” he says. “I just remembered this morning a particular gag and it made me laugh. We had a lot of fun on that and we put in a lot of work constructing jokes and stupid physical stuff even. We put a lot of work into it. I remembered something about Bill (actor/comedian Bill Bailey) handing me a frying pan and then throwing water in my face. We laughed and corpsed when we did it.”
Finally, Moran acknowledges he’s been to the Canadian Halifax more than its British namesake in recent years.
“I think I have,” he says. “Quite right, Canada wins that one.”
Dylan Moran Grumbling Mustard Canadian Tour Dates:
- June 7 – Fredricton, NB @ The Playhouse
- June 9, 10 – Toronto, ON @ The Danforth Music Hall
- June 12 – Ottawa, ON @ Centrepointe Theatre
- June 14 – Edmonton, AB @ Horowitz Theatre
- June 15 – Calgary, AB @ MacEwan Hall
- June 18 – Victoria, BC @ McPherson Playhouse
- June 19 – Nanaimo, BC @ The Port Theatre
- June 21 – Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre
For info visit www.dylanmoran.com