On Friday, a hilarious Irish person came to Riga. No, another one. Dylan Moran, to be exact. I’d noticed a poster for the gig a couple of weeks ago and raced home to buy my ticket. I was slightly disappointed when I printed it out and realised that I couldn’t take an umbrella, a knife, a gun or any alcohol to the venue. However, amazingly, it looked like smiling would be tolerated.
I’d been telling my students about it all week and finally, on Thursday evening, I found a fan in one of my new groups. Except that he pronounced his name ‘Die-lan’. With the proud expression that comes from thinking you know a word none of the other students do, he asked, ‘But his surname is a bad word, right?’ I didn’t want to crush his little spirit by telling him no, in fact, that’s ‘morON’, not ‘MorAN’… but I did anyway.
On Friday night, I showed up at Rigas Kongresu Nams (Congress House) sober, wet and unarmed – as instructed. I clambered over some po-faced Latvians and took my seat beside some other po-faced Latvians. This was going to be a riot…
How wrong I was! As soon as Dylan took to the stage, charmingly dishevelled as always (glass of red in one hand and bottle of water in the other), the mood changed instantly. He opened with ‘Sveiki, pilates, pilates. No, that isn’t right. What is it?’ I, in my infinite wisdom, of course knew that it was ‘paldies’ (thank you) and it was comforting to see somebody else suck at Latvian even more than I do. Oh, how the Latvians laughed.
For the next hour and a half, I had a sort of out of body experience. Listening to Dylan Moran was a bit like listening to myself, albeit in a man’s voice with a slight Meath accent. And of course, a lot funnier than I could ever hope to be.
He admitted to not having seen much of Riga that day as the Latvians had ‘turned on the rain’ for his arrival. However, he’d obviously seen and heard enough as he was able to poke fun at Latvian legends, folk music and women walking around in high heels on cobblestones. He even did a spot-on impression of a Latvian woman teetering around in stilettos. Oh, how the Latvians laughed.
The relationship between Latvians and Lithuanians was up next as he’d just come from Vilnius that morning. ‘They call you their brothers, right?’ ‘YES!’, roared the unusually verbose Latvian audience. ‘But can you understand them when they speak Lithuanian?’ ‘NO!’ ‘Right, so you’re basically the last two countries on this particular branch of the language tree and you can’t even understand each other. Great.’ More laughter.
After the intermission, he walked back onstage and was about to begin speaking just as two Latvian guys walked up to him and presented him with boxes of cake. For the next five minutes, I had massive cake envy as he munched his way through the amazing-looking treats. He mumbled a few words every now and then, mainly to blame his ‘moobs’ on exactly this sort of situation, but primarily he focused on the cake. I couldn’t blame him.
During a bit about the horrors of dinner parties, he asked the audience for a typical Latvian surname to insert into his spiel. ‘Bērziņš!’, cried the audience but this was clearly too much for him. He said ‘Birdshit???’ questioningly and then asked for another. ‘Jānis!’ 4 or 5 people shouted. Then half the audience. And so there was a whole section where he joked about the ‘Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanises’ coming to dinner.
All in all, it was a fantastic night. He ripped the piss out of everything from relationships to religion to technology to language. I laughed pretty much non-stop for an hour and a half. And I wasn’t the only one. Sure, there were a few other expats in the audience but the vast majority were Latvian. Trust me – if this man comes to a town near you, buy a ticket. Because if he can make Latvians laugh like that, he can make you laugh too.