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Tickling the English [Paperback]

Dara O Briain
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
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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 (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 90,695 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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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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tickling my funny bone 3 Dec 2009
By Bigbird
I didn't think I could love Dara O briain any more than I already did, but I do after reading this book. I just hope he writes another very soon.
His tangents are always entertaining and come round in beautiful narrative arcs, the man can write.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
OK, first things first. If you've stood at an airport or station, been in a bookshop or looked on line and tried to decide whether or not to part with your hard earned English pounds in order to buy this book, my answer would be simple. Go for it.

If you are looking for a book to relax with, on a journey, on holiday or at home, this would be an excellent choice. At the heart of the book is O'Briain's year long tour of Britain (but mainly England) , with occasional sojourns to Ireland to recharge his cultural battteries. He gives an account of each venue, the kind of people who make up the audience and some of the gags and stories he tells. Through this we learn about the life of the standup, how he goes about developing the material for a tour and how different audiences and his reaction to them can radically change the feel of a show.

The most interesting parts of the book are where he gives an outsider's view of the English, with his central thesis being that we have the most enormous downer on ourselves . Far from our living in a crime-ridden, juvenile deliquent, has-been country with a collapsing NHS, he gives evidence and quotes statistics which very much give the lie to Old Etonian man of the people, David Cameron's fantasies about "Broken Brtain"

Two real stand out parts of the book are (tagged on to an account of a show in Wolverhampton) a demolition of Enoch Powell's "Rivers of Blood" speech, and a heartwarming description of going to see, and chewing the fat with, Ken Dodd in Leeds.

The book is an easy read, overall it is quite gentle and the language while fruity in places is about 1/10th as sweary as his stage show. It may not be to your taste if you subscribe to a view of the world in keeping with that of the Daily Mail.

Oh, and as you'd expect, it is laugh out loud funny in places.

Definitely recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 22 hours 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 18 days ago by philip harper
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Arrived quickly, and as described.
Published 19 days 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 1 month ago by gyng
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 1 month 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 months ago by Lisa Radford
5.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought, seriously.
Great book, really made me think about England a bit more, not least as an Irish man living here, and a young person. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Cian Donohoe
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