Review: Dara Ó Briain 'Voice of Reason' at the Birmingham Hippodrome | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Review: Dara Ó Briain ‘Voice of Reason’ at the Birmingham Hippodrome

Culture editor Olivia Boyce reviews Dara Ó Briain's 'Voice of Reason' tour, a 'simply stellar evening of comedy.'

From the first moment Dara Ó Briain steps out onto the stage at the Birmingham Hippodrome, it is clear that this gig, part of his 'Voice of Reason' tour, is going to bring some fun to an audience who have made their way through the cold to be there. From the early quip about how thankful he is for the show to go ahead, to the moment he leaves to tremendous applause, it proves to be a simply stellar evening of comedy.

Familiar to many for his work as a comedian on shows such as Mock the Week, as well as his presenting time on Robot Wars, Stargazing Live and Go 8 Bit, Ó Briain brings stories from his involvement with these shows, as well as jokes from a wide range of topics, touching on a great many aspects of life in the 21st century to brilliant comic effect.

'a simply stellar evening of comedy...'

He begins with references to the snow outside, telling audience members that if they think his jokes are awful, they can slip out under the guise of having to catch a train and he’ll be none the wiser. Ó Briain takes Birmingham in his comedic sight too, with references to the recent station developments, looking back to a time when New Street had ‘stairs that smelt of piss’. Ó Briain brings something of a local humour into each of the stops on his tour, and it works wonders here, with the room nodding in agreement as they laugh too.

As always, Ó Briain uses the audience themselves as comic fodder, interacting with several people in the front few rows. It is the sort of brilliant situation where you had to have been there in the room, and with the audience changing every night, lends a new and enjoyable comic element to every gig. From the builder of cold-rooms who doesn’t like the cold, to the frontier man ‘John Henry’, to the man who worked in ‘pipe’, Ó Briain used quick conversations they had to sustain brilliant gags throughout the rest of the show, a testament to the effortless skill with which he adapts to the room.

Ó Briain, of course, refers to topical concerns by engaging with topics from Trump to Brexit, Fake News to Virtual Reality. He also jokes about the problems faced when trying to use news stories in a comedy tour that lasts upwards of two years, as well as the realities of trying to create a show that works in vastly differing cultures. It is an intriguing glimpse into the comedic process, something Ó Briain gestures to and is honest about throughout the evening. At times his humour falls away to become tinged with a striking poignancy, resonating long after the show, as when he describes the reactions of Londoners to past terror attacks and hardships. 

'Ó Briain is without a doubt one of the best comedians of our time...'

Particular highlights amongst the otherwise excellent set are references to a fake news story about Ó Briain himself, a story about a trip to Australia with a whip-crack sharp punchline, and references to some rather unfortunate Google searches. At the close of the show, Ó Briain brings the jokes and stories he has woven throughout to come full circle, leading to one of the most comically perfect ends to a show, and an audience in peals of laughter long after he has left the stage. Ó Briain is without a doubt one of the best comedians of our time, and every moment of ‘Voice of Reason’ proves that time and time again. For a night of comedy, you can do no better.

The Voice of Reason tour continues at various venues, and more information can be found here. To read our preview, containing interview material with Dara Ó Briain, click here.


Third year English Literature student. Print Editor for Redbrick Culture. Appreciator of all things literary or stagey. Often found singing musical theatre tunes when I think no-one is watching. (@liv_boyce)


5th March 2018 at 11:36 am

Last Updated

5th March 2018 at 11:45 am

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Brian Ritchie