The man who gave Black Books a cult fol­low­ing has some strong views about to­day’s hy­per-con­nected world and what it’s do­ing to the next gen­er­a­tion

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - COMEDY - PENNY DURHAM

There’s some­thing nos­tal­gic about the sight of Dy­lan Moran. The tou­sled hair and, let’s say, dad-bod seem to pre­date the manscaping and gym-go­ing aes­thetic that have af­flicted so many males of his gen­er­a­tion (he’s 43).

The cig­a­rettes are gone, but he still has a glass of wine on stage. You prob­a­bly won’t find him glued to an iPhone.

Off the Hook, the ti­tle of his cur­rent tour – which heads to the Gold Coast next week – harks back to the old kind of phone and speaks de­fi­antly to the need to be con­stantly con­nected, al­ways avail­able.

“My son’s only a child but he’s al­ready pin­ing for predig­i­tal days, be­cause he’s so bored by the zom­bie-like ef­fect it’s had on ev­ery­body,” Moran says.

“He said the other day, ‘When I think of fun I think of my phone, and that seems creepy’, and he’s only a child.”

Moran’s com­edy se­ries Black Books, in which he played the gruff, cus­tomer-un­friendly, moder­nity-re­sis­tant owner of a ram­shackle bookshop, now looks pos­i­tively sepia-toned. Times were al­ready chang­ing when he started mak­ing it, with co-stars Tamsin Greig and Bill Bai­ley, in 2000.

“It be­came clear by the last se­ries (in 2004) that all of that world was be­com­ing like a set that was be­ing taken away and some­thing else was com­ing in,” he says. “The dig­i­tal revo­lu­tion.” A big reader in his youth, he says even he reads dif­fer­ently now – “there’s no time for long fic­tion” – and that it must be al­most im­pos­si­ble nowa­days to be the kind of child who is al­ways sunk in a book.

“In ru­ral en­vi­ron­ments chil­dren are prob­a­bly go­ing to be fine. But if you’re an ur­ban kid, you’re in the mid­dle of a pin­ball ma­chine al­ready; so to have the moth­er­board add another layer means you’re in a pop­corn ma­chine in­side a pin­ball ma­chine. I don’t see how you’d have the seren­ity of the hour or half-hour you’d spend with a book avail­able. (A book) is your lit­tle boat and your oars and you’re off into the sea of your imag­i­na­tion. But now it’s like open­ing the wardrobe and it’s Nar­nia – the world just goes on and on.

“When we opened the wardrobe there were three things in there you could try to amuse your­self with that par­tic­u­lar day. Maybe I’m a sim­ple per­son but I find the choice com­pletely over­whelm­ing, so God knows how a young

per­son finds it ... I think it’s (ex­ple­tive) crazy, to be hon­est, I don’t see how it does any­body any good.

“And we’re still learn­ing how to han­dle it, and we’re nowhere near find­ing out how to han­dle it yet.

“If you’re eat­ing junk food even­tu­ally you get to the bot­tom of the bag, or if you’re drink­ing you pass out. But this stuff, it’s a lit­tle ham­mer on your en­dor­phin re­lease sys­tem – the lit­tle buzz you get from feel­ing con­nected – you can go on all day and night with that stuff.”

Dy­lan Moran heads to The Arts Cen­tre Gold Coast.

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