Tickling the English – Dara O Briain

Tickling the English cover

Date read: 13th July 2014
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Release Date: October 2009
Length: 310 pages
Format: Paperback
Source: The library

Goodreads description

Irishman Dara O’ Briain lives and works in England. When he’s not in London, he’s taking his show on tour up and down the country. Although he’s been doing this for years, it’s clear to him that his adopted home is still a a bit of an enigma. It is high time, he decides, to discover what makes the English so…well, English.

My review

I picked this book up on a whim from Campus Library when I was killing time before meeting a friend for dinner. Although I haven’t watched two shows that O Briain appears on regularly for a while (Mock the Week and QI), I find him a witty comedian to watch, and I like his programme on Dave which aims to make maths fun as well as interesting.

I thought that this book was going to be a bit more of a sociological discussion on the typical traits of the English, and it took me a while to realise that it was more of a tour diary, with a focus on funny audience members and the towns that the author had visited, in an attempt to find some sort of pattern. I enjoyed the sections in which he discussed the differences between the Irish and the British, both as nations and as comedy audiences with regard to what jokes work in front of which audiences.

The funniest bit of Dara’s show, at least as depicted in this book, is when he asks the audience to tell him whether they’ve ever interrupted a crime. From memory, as I’ve already taken the book back to the library, there was someone who interrupted a burglar who escaped the house – and dropped all the stuff he’d taken into the courgette patch! That bit made me laugh out loud. On a bus. Not cool…

In a nutshell, this book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but it was a quick, funny read, and definitely a good example of an impulse buy, or in this case, borrow!


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