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Reviews

MONSTER

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I love Dylan Moran's material. The Irish comic has a refreshingly personal skew on drinking (there are fewer arguments if you do it alone), smoking (he's never going to stop), and the American physique (he accuses us of exporting our fat people, because it's all he sees in Europe, though he can't find a single one in our sun-kissed city). There are, perhaps, 20 minutes of delightful material in this 90-minute show. The rest is a study in personality as he free-associates in a singularly desultory fashion while he plays with his flopsy hair, sips from his wine, and unapologetically lights more cigarettes in one show that most Angelenos have seen publicly smoked in the past year. Just as an aside, I wouldn't recommend, if you attend, that you even think about delivering that sanctimonious little cough that announces, "Your smoke is invading my space."

This persona of his—the amiable, superannuated schoolboy with a fondness for small vices and an amorphous, inoffensive free-floating anger—is a faultless character study, as almost everything he comes up with seems to be snatched out of the air as it randomly floats by. So discursive is he that things such as periods are mere concepts that he occasionally feels are impending but cannot guarantee. It's inspiring, in a way, to see that a male comic needn't be a slickly packaged bundle of barely controlled naked aggression, something that has become the norm for what passes for funny men in this culture. On the other hand, his style leads to long stretches in which one begins to feel that if the performer can just be indulged a little bit longer, he will come to the point, any point, and we can move on. On the night reviewed, Moran found a Scotsman in the house who had been living in America for decades. Off the comic went, spinning an ever more haphazard tale from this thin premise that never went anywhere and finally just, kind of, stopped. That said, when he's good, he's great. There may never be a more evocative image of Janis Joplin than as a woman whose clothes are "woven from her own vomit."

"Monster," presented by WestBeth Entertainment and UCLA Live at the Macgowan Little Theater, UCLA campus, Westwood. Wed.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 7 p.m. Apr. 13-May 1. $7-25. (310) 825-2101.

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