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Tickling the English [Paperback]

Dara O Briain
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

1 April 2010

Nostalgia, identity, eccentricity, gin drinking and occasional violence... these are just some of the themes that stand-up comedian Dara O Briain explores in Tickling the English.

O Briain moved to England many years ago, but when he takes his show on tour around the country - from deserted seaside towns and remote off-shore islands, to sprawling industrial cities and sleepy suburbs - it's clear to him that his adopted home is still a bit of an enigma.

Why do the English pretend to be unhappy all the time?

Why can't they accept they rank about 5th, in everything?

And what's with all the fudge?

But this Irishman loves a challenge; he's certainly got the gregarious personality and the sure-fire wit to bring down the barriers of that famous English reserve, and have a good old rummage inside. Swapping anecdotes with his audiences and spending time wandering in their hometowns, this nosy neighbour holds England up to the light while exploring some of the attitudes he brought over here with him too.

As Dara goes door-to-door in search of England in this part tour diary, part travelogue, the result is an affectionate, hilarious and often eye-opening journey through the Sceptred Isle.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014104666X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141046662
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


A master-class in intelligent stand-up...It's thoughtful stuff, impeccably delivered. With material this strong, you don't need gimmicks (Guardian)

About the Author

Dara O Briain is the biggest Irish comic to have hit the UK in recent years. Already a huge star in Ireland, O Briain has now moved from being a sold-out festival favourite in Edinburgh to selling out theatres across the country and enjoying mainstream television success with his topical BBC comedy show, Mock The Week. He has been living in England for the past seven years.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
100 of 102 people found the following review helpful
By Alison TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I pre-ordered Dara's book as soon as I saw it was to be released and was eagerly awaiting it's arrival. I wasn't to be disappointed - it arrived yesterday and I've been glued to the sofa ever since! The book is a combination of Dara's observations whilst on his last tour of the UK and his interweaving of facts, figures and historical information of the places and people of England.

There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in the book (much to the irritation of my husband who wanted to know what I was laughing at but also wanted to wait to read the book for himself) and at the same time the book is full of interesting stuff. Dara also gives some insight into the life of a comic on tour and recounts many of the interesting people and conversations that he has had on tour.

If you like Dara's comedy then you're bound to enjoy his book. It's very well written, very funny and very clever. Highly recommended!
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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever, funny and articulate 9 Oct 2009
I've admired O'Briain in his role as the witty but controlled ringmaster on Mock The Week, but can he write? Yes is the answer, and charmingly too. There's perhaps not quite as much in-depth analysis of the English character in here as you might be led to believe from the cover of the book, but there are some nice insights. The real strength of the book is in the way O'Briain opens up the world of the touring comic, with the unhealthy eating and drinking habits and monotonous travel set against working in some beautiful theatres with hugely varying audience characters. The aspects of the book that describe the development of a few thoughts for a show through rehearsals in small clubs to a full scale tour are fascinating, as is the description of the need to constantly change and adapt the material while on tour. And then of course there's Ken Dodd.... I won't spoil the book but Dara is either: (i) Ken Dodd's marketing man (ii) his son, or (iii) a receptacle for storing Ken's money. Actually, my money's on the latter. Read and enjoy - on the strength of this book O'Briain has a writing ability that matches his stand-up skills.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm, witty and wise . . . 9 April 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I loved this. Dara O'Briain is an observational comic in the truest sense - he stands in front of an audience most nights of the week and from this he observes national characteristics, neuroses, pre-occupations and prejudices. His conclusion, is that if the English are pre-occupied with feeling negative about themselves, then they're not really that bad after all - not all of them anyway. He admits that his success on stage is down to how well he manages to interact with his audience (particularly the front row) but it's this interaction that makes every one of his shows unique, and helps to overcome the issue of repetition that logging his tour of the UK (and Dublin) might otherwise involve. I read this while on holiday in the middle of England and enjoyed the sense of Dara whizzing backwards and forwards around me as his zig-zagging tour itinerary unfolds. The big lessons (for comedians) are to stick to the big cities wherever possible, particularly Leeds (but not Sheffield) and never, ever end a tour in Tunbridge Wells. Also, avoid assumptions about strange noises emanating from the darkened stalls. For the rest of us, the lessons are much more revealing - about what we do for our livings, what makes us laugh, what crimes have been committed against us and what on earth motivates someone to sit on the front row of a comedy show - or arrive late. His reflections on his, and our, multiculturalism, are carefully considered and amusing, and his summary that what we (the English) are really coming to terms with, is that having once considered ourselves to be the BEST at everything, we're now generally FIFTH best at most things. Get over yourselves! Fair enough. Read more ›
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Being Tickled 1 Nov 2009
This book is the perfect antidote to the negativity so often peddled (mainly by ourselves) about the English. Dara's writing portrays a tremendous affection for his audiences as he encounters people the length and breadth of the country and asks them the simple question `What do you do'? We are given a glimpse of what it's like to embark on an extensive stand-up tour and the lifestyle this dictates. I particularly enjoyed how it was written because at no point does Dara claim to be an expert on our history or customs but having said that I learnt more about England's past from this book than I ever did at school! As well as being, accessible, well written and thoughtful it's also (as you would expect) extremely funny. The exchanges between performer and audience draw out how truly comical everyday life is and added to Dara's slightly surreal outlook I giggled my way through it. All of this is combined with a very sweet moment about becoming a father, an encounter with the legendary Ken Dodd and the addictive qualities of the Geordie accent made Tickling the English a joy to read
I have just three things to say to Dara: (1) Can I have Damon's job please? (2) Please tell me you didn't really wear only two shirts throughout the entire tour because that's gross. And (3) when can we meet so we can swap accents?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Stick to the live tours and TV
This wasn't actually as funny as I had imagined it to be and so I was a bit disappointed given that I think Dara is, in general, a very funny man. Read more
Published 7 days ago by McStick
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 1 month ago by veronicaholder
3.0 out of 5 stars Irish Jokester
Dara tours the country gently poking fun at the uptight English and its quite good it would of been better with a few more story's of life on the road but maybe nothing interesting... Read more
Published 1 month ago by philip harper
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Arrived quickly, and as described.
Published 1 month ago by Mr D M Edgeler
4.0 out of 5 stars optimistic
I liked that he points out that us Brits are going to be alright despite the pessimistic side and the rise of the further right in politics. Read more
Published 2 months ago by gyng
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 2 months ago by Teacher1
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read
Well written excellent funny and entertaining book. Full of good old English quirks.
Great to hear Dara's review of the British.
Published 5 months ago by Mr. Robin P. J. White
4.0 out of 5 stars entertaining
Found it fun to read and entertaining next time on your tour try to do a gig in hitchin if you can
Published 6 months ago by mikey D
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing.
This is little more than a collection of diary entries from a tour, seemingly gathered together under the pretense of a book with no other aim than hoodwinking fans into buying... Read more
Published 7 months ago by A McIntyre
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
Dara's comical style runs throughout this book, making it hilarious as well as insightful. Could have carried on reading this for several more chapters
Published 8 months ago by Lisa Radford
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