Dara Ó Briain

Dara Ó Briain

Ó Briain in Dublin, Ireland, in 2007
Born 4 February 1972 (1972-02-04) (age 39)
Bray, County Wicklow, Republic of Ireland
Medium Stand up, Television
Nationality Irish
Years active 1998 - Present
Genres Observational comedy
Influences Eddie Izzard
Paul Merton
Lewis Black[1]
Spouse Susan (2006-present)
Notable works and roles Don't Feed The Gondolas (1998-2000)
The Panel (2003-2006)
Mock the Week (2005-present)
Turn Back Time (2006)
The Apprentice: You're Fired! (2010-present)

Dara Ó Briain (Irish pronunciation: [ˈd̪ˠaɾˠə oː ˈbʲɾʲiənʲ], born 4 February 1972) is an Irish stand-up comedian and television presenter, noted for hosting topical panel shows such as The Panel and Mock the Week.

Ó Briain has hosted and appeared on a number of successful panel shows; as well as The Panel and Mock the Week he has featured on Don't Feed the Gondolas, Have I Got News For You, QI and The Apprentice: You're Fired!. The Irish Independent described him as "Terry Wogan's heir apparent as Britain's 'favourite Irishman'".[2] Writing for The Evening Standard, Bruce Dessau noted that "If you don’t laugh at Ó Briain, check your pulse, you must be dead."[3]

Since January 2006, Ó Briain has taken part in the BBC Three Men in a Boat series, with Rory McGrath and Griff Rhys Jones. The series, broadcast in pairs of episodes around new year in 2006 and then every year since 2008 have almost consistently brought in 3 million viewers.

In 2007 he was voted the 42nd greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups and again in the updated 2010 list as the 16th greatest stand-up comic.


Early life

Ó Briain was born in 1972, in Bray, County Wicklow, and attended Coláiste Eoin secondary school, a Gaelcholáiste on Dublin's southside. He attended University College, Dublin (U.C.D.), where he studied mathematics and theoretical physics. In 2008, he remarked: "I haven't written it into my act, but it occasionally comes through. I could come on with a chalkboard and say: 'Now you're all going to pay attention.'"[4] While a student there, he was both the auditor of the Literary and Historical Society (the university's oldest debating society) and the co-founder and co-editor of The University Observer college newspaper. In 1994, he won the Irish Times National Debating Championship and The Irish Times/Gael Linn National Irish language debating championship; he is fluent in Irish, and speaks to his father only in Irish.[5]


Early career

After leaving college, Ó Briain began working at RTÉ as a children's TV presenter. At this time he also began performing his first stand-up gigs on the Irish comedy circuit.[6] He admitted, "I did the trip from Dublin to Donegal to play to six people; then I turned round and drove home again. I did about three or four years playing to a lot of bad rooms, but learning as I went. It's not bad when someone gives you £40 for standing up and telling jokes. I remember thinking: 'This is the life.'"[4] Ó Briain spent three years as a presenter on the bilingual (Irish and English) language children's programme Echo Island but came to prominence as a team captain on the topical panel show Don't Feed The Gondolas (1998–2000) hosted by Seán Moncrieff. Ó Briain also hosted RTÉ family entertainment gameshow It's A Family Affair.[7]

Stand-up comedy

Ó Briain's stand up career internationally took off around this time as he began to tour heavily, performing across Europe, Asia, Australia and North America, with gigs in Dubai, Boston, Adelaide, Shanghai and New York. He was a regular at the Kilkenny Cat Laughs and the Edinburgh Festival, as well as making one notable appearance at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal in 2002 where he was offered a prestigious gala show because of his performances at the Irish showcase. Around this time Ó Briain presented the weekend mainstream game show It's a Family Affair for RTÉ. It was the first time he worked with former Channel 4 commissioning editor Séamus Cassidy. They later set up the production company Happy Endings Productions, and together they produced (and Ó Briain presented) the chat show Buried Alive (2003) and most famously in Ireland The Panel (2003–2006).

On March 12, 2011 Dara set a new Guinness World Records title with Jack Whitehall and Jon Richardson, for hosting the 'Highest stand up comedy gig in the world', on a British Airways flight in support of Comic Relief.[8][9]

Panel shows

The Panel was hosted by Ó Briain. Three times nominated for the Best Entertainment show IFTA (Irish Film and Television Award) the show has a rotating cast of panelists, usually drawn from the world of Irish comedy, discussing the events of the week and interviewing guests. The most regular panelists have been Colin Murphy, Ed Byrne, Neil Delamere and Andrew Maxwell.

Around 2002, with his profile rising across in the UK due to his one-man shows at the Edinburgh fringe festival, Ó Briain began to make appearances on UK television shows such as Bring Me the Head of Light Entertainment (a Channel 5 production) and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. At the start of 2003 he hosted the second series of BBC Scotland's Live Floor Show.[10] His big break in UK television came in 2003 when he appeared as a guest panelist on the popular news quiz, Have I Got News for You, subsequently making several appearances as guest host of the show.[11]

He was nominated in 2003 at the Chortle Comedy Awards for Live Comedy in the categories Best Compère and Best Headline Act (which he would go on to win). In 2004 he won the Best Headliner award again, as well as being nominated for Best Full-length Show. Since 2005 he has been the host of the comedy panel game Mock the Week on BBC television, a blend between Have I Got News for You and Whose Line Is It Anyway?. He is a relatively frequent panelist on QI, and wrote about Ireland in the QI series E annual, and appears occasionally on Just a Minute on BBC Radio 4. He has also appeared in and hosted the stand-up show Live at the Apollo.

Ó Briain starred in the BBC Radio show about "the world according to science". Episode 1 of "Infinite Monkey Cage" began on 30 November 2009 on Radio 4 at 16:30 GMT.

In 2010, Ó Briain hosted The Sixth series of The Apprentice: You're Fired! and appeared twice on the Sky1 show, A League of Their Own. He also presented the seventh series in 2011.

From 3 to 5 January 2011 Ó Briain and Professor Brian Cox presented Stargazing Live on BBC Two, three programmmes based at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, scheduled to coincide with the conjunction of Jupiter and Uranus, a partial solar eclipse, and the Quadrantid meteor shower.[12]

Tours, chat shows and writing

Since 2006 Ó Briain has starred in the BBC's Three Men in a Boat series, alongside Griff Rhys Jones and Rory McGrath. The series has included the trio rowing the River Thames, as in the 1889 novel of the same name, sailing from London to the Isle of Wight for a sail boat race, borrowing numerous vessels to make their way from Plymouth to the Isles of Scilly. In 2009 the three took to the Irish canals and rivers on a trip from Dublin to Limerick. In 2010 they explored the Isles of Scotland. Other notable television work includes hosting the BBC sitcom writing competition "Last Laugh".

In 2005, Ó Briain's show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was the biggest selling solo comedy show of the festival.[13] On 14 September 2005, he appeared as a guest on Room 101, where he got rid of children's television presenters (originating from his co-presenters on Echo Island) and once-in-a-lifetime experiences (he was given a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the show, by being the second guest, the first being former host Nick Hancock, to pull the lever that opens the chute to Room 101), banter, Gillian McKeith (host of You Are What You Eat) and magicians.

Ó Briain conducted his third and largest multinational tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland in early 2006. This included shows at the Theatre Royal, MEN Arena, Symphony Hall, Grand Opera House, as well as 9 nights in Dublin at Vicar Street. His second night in the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in London was recorded for his first live DVD. His fourth multinational tour followed in late 2007, which as he says in his routine has "no title" but was almost entitled "You Had to Be There". Ó Briain has also been an extensive newspaper columnist, with pieces published in many national papers in both the UK and Ireland, from The Sunday Times to The Daily Telegraph. On 9 August 2006, he hosted the first edition of his new celebrity chat show, Turn Back Time.[6]

Ó Briain released his first book on 1 October 2009, the book is entitled Tickling the English and is about what he perceives it means to be English. As part of its promotion he has stated that he is a great fan of English culture and a student of English history, his favourite periods being the Gin Craze and the civil war.[14] In a review of Tickling the English Ó Briain was described as Sir Terry Wogan's heir apparent as Britain's "favourite Irishman".[2]

Ó Briain hosted the British Academy Video Games Awards in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The awards were streamed live for the first time in 2010 at BAFTA.org and again in 2011.[15][16]

In 2011, Ó Briain took part in two shows of the 16-date Uncaged Monkeys tour with names such as Professor Brian Cox, Robin Ince, Ben Goldacre, Simon Singh and Chris Addison.

Personal life

Ó Briain married his wife Susan, a surgeon, in 2006[17] and they have a daughter,[18] born in 2008. Tickling the English, Dara O'Briain. O'Briain says that his daughter was born during his Dara O'Briain Talks Funny Tour in 2008. His best man at his wedding was fellow comedian Ed Byrne.[19] He describes himself as looking like "one of Tony Soprano's henchmen", and admits that, "living in London I probably only get recognised about once a day. And that's okay by me. I'm not a celebrity. And I certainly don't see myself as one."[20]

Ó Briain has said he sees himself as an atheist, but "ethnically Catholic": "I'm staunchly atheist, I simply don’t believe in God. But I'm still Catholic, of course.[21] Catholicism has a much broader reach than just the religion. I'm technically Catholic, it's the box you have to tick on the census form: 'Don't believe in God, but I do still hate Rangers.'"[22]

His surname is the original Irish form of O'Brien. He admitted, "My dad was involved in the Irish language movement and changed it. Even Irish people are now confused by it".[20]

He is a keen Arsenal F.C. fan.[23]

In his stand-up show, he's been known to note that he's "a gamer, and proud to be a gamer", stating his favourite games include the Gears of War series.[24]

Ó Briain was one of fifteen members of a racing greyhound syndicate for several years.[25] The December 2009 transmission of Three Men Go To Ireland featured their dog Snip Nua who, by the time of transmission, had been put down following injuries sustained in a race. Ó Briain was so upset about the death that he and his fellow syndicate members immediately disbanded the syndicate permanently.[25] In early 2010 a series of small demonstrations were held outside some of Ó Briain's tour venues, urging him to publicly denounce the sport of greyhound racing due to the dog's death.[26][27]

Stand-Up DVDs

Title Released Notes
Live At The Theatre Royal 13 November 2006 Live at London's Theatre Royal
Talks Funny - Live in London 17 November 2008 Live at London's HMV Hammersmith Apollo
This Is the Show 22 November 2010 Live at London's HMV Hammersmith Apollo

See also

  • Auditors of the Literary and Historical Society (University College Dublin)


  1. ^ "Ditzy Boomhaha answers your questions". Chortle: The UK Comedy Guide. 2006-12-04. http://www.chortle.co.uk/interviews/2006/12/04/4772/ditzy_boomhaha_answers_your_questions. Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  2. ^ a b "dara the irishman". The Irish Independent (Dublin). 2009-11-07. http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/dara-the-irishman-1936567.html. Retrieved 2010-05-06. 
  3. ^ "Dara Ó Briain". lisarichards.ie. Retrieved on 15 November 2008.
  4. ^ a b Carroll, Su. "TIME HAS COME FOR STAND-UP GUY DARA"[dead link]. The Plymouth Herald, May 6, 2008. Retrieved on May 25, 2008.
  5. ^ Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. BBC.
  6. ^ a b Kelleher, Lynne (2006-07-30). "Funnyman Dara O Briain lands his own BBC chat show". Irish Independent (Independent News & Media). http://www.independent.ie/national-news/funnyman-dara-o-briain-lands-his-own-bbc-chatshow-133079.html. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  7. ^ "Green Inc. - It's A Family Affair". http://www.greeninc.tv/programme.asp?id=46. 
  8. ^ Website. "BA Website". Press Office. http://press.ba.com/?p=1681. Retrieved 20 March 2011. 
  9. ^ http://www.youtube.com/flybritishairways#p/u/6/Ux30pnqvQQE
  10. ^ Dessau, Bruce. "Dara O Briain". The Evening Standard. Retrieved on 4 February 2008.
  11. ^ "Dara Ó Briain". Paramount UK. Retrieved on 25 May 2008.
  12. ^ "Stargazing Live". news.bbc.co.uk. 23 December 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/northeastscotlandnorthernisles/hi/people_and_places/nature/newsid_9318000/9318210.stm. Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  13. ^ "Live Brum: Events on 17 March 2008". Live Brum, 17 March 2008. Retrieved on 28 May 2008.
  14. ^ Dara O'Briain Interview, National Theatre, 23 October 2009
  15. ^ http://www.bafta.org/press/game-bafta-video-games-awards-host-announced,81,SNS.html
  16. ^ http://www.bafta.org/press/game-british-academy-video-games-awards-winners-in-2011,140,SNS.html
  17. ^ "Interview: Dara O'Briain tells Andrew Pettie that Mock the Week doesn't discriminate against women.". The Daily Telegraph (London). 2 July 2009. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/5712453/Interview-Dara-OBriain.html. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  18. ^ Lowe, David (2008-12-02). "The audience is the funniest gag at any of my gigs | The Sun |Features|Comedy Columnists". London: The Sun. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/comedycolumnists/1993527/The-audience-is-the-funniest-br-gag-at-any-of-my-gigs.html. Retrieved 2010-11-03. 
  19. ^ {{cite news|http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b016119w/Mock_the_Week_Series_10_Episode_12/.
  20. ^ a b Taylor, Richie. "I'll never be a famous face. I'm an ugly bloke!". Irish Independent, February 15, 2008. Retrieved on 15 November 2008.
  21. ^ "Dara O'Briain and Frankie Boyle on religion and creationism". YouTube. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=LHqOG8p0Lkc. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  22. ^ "Only in Ireland". Eircom. Retrieved on 12 November 2008.
  23. ^ O Briain, Dara (15 August 2009). "Every week there'll be a new 'Crisis' to mock - Dara O Briain - Football - The Guardian". London: guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2009/aug/15/dara-o-briain-arsenal-premier-league. Retrieved 2009-08-16. 
  24. ^ http://gamer.blorge.com/2010/12/11/dara-obriains-comedy-routine-on-gaming/
  25. ^ a b "Dara's dog starred in Three Men after she was put down; Comedian too upset to talk about death of his greyhound Snip Nua". findarticles.com. 31 January 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/news-articles/mail-on-sunday-london-england-the/mi_8003/is_2010_Jan_31/daras-dog-starred-men-comedian/ai_n48850564/?tag=content;col1. Retrieved 2010-02-21. [dead link]
  26. ^ "IT'S A DOG'S LIFE FOR DARA AFTER GREYHOUND DIES | Sunday Mirror Newspaper | Find Articles at BNET". Findarticles.com. 2010-04-25. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4161/is_20100425/ai_n53292062/. Retrieved 2010-11-10. 
  27. ^ "UK Indymedia - Greyhound death demo greets Dara". Indymedia.org.uk. 2010-04-21. http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2010/04/449445.html. Retrieved 2010-11-10. 

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