Dara Ó Briain

Dara Ó Briain, (born 4 February 1972) (pronounced , Anglicised ) is an Irish comedian and television presenter.

Early Life

Ó Briain was born in Wicklow and attended Coláiste Eoin, a Gaelscoil on Dublin's southside. He attended college in University College, Dublin, where he studied maths and theoretical physics. In 2008, he remarked: "I haven't written it into my act, but it occasionally comes through. I could come on with a chalkboard and say: 'Now you're all going to pay attention.'" While a student there, he was both the auditor of the Literary and Historical Society, the university's oldest debating society and the official College Debating Union, and the co-editor and co-founder of the University Observer college newspaper. In 1994 he won the Irish Times National Debating Championship and the Irish Times/Gael Linn National Irish language debating championship (he is a fluent Irish speaker).


Early career

After leaving college, Ó Briain began his television career as a children's presenter on RTÉ, and began performing his first stand-up gigs on the Irish comedy circuit. He admitted, "I did the trip from Donegal to Dublin to play to six people; then I turned round and drove home again. I did about three or four years playing to a lot of bad rooms, but learning as I went. It's not bad when someone gives you £40 for standing up and telling jokes. I remember thinking: 'This is the life.'" Ó Briain spent three years as a presenter on the bilingual (Irish and English) language children's programme Echo Island but came to prominence as a team captain on the topical panel show Don't Feed The Gondolas (1998-2000) hosted by Seán Moncrieff.

Stand-up comedy

Ó Briain's stand up career internationally took off around this time as he began to tour heavily, performing across the continents in Europe, Asia, Australia, with gigs as far afield as Dubai, Boston, Adelaide, Shanghai and New York. He is a regular at the Kilkenny Cat Laughs and the Edinburgh Festival, as well as making one notable appearance at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal in 2002 where he was offered a prestigious gala show because of his performances at the Irish showcase. Around this time Ó Briain presented the weekend mainstream game show It's a Family Affair for RTÉ. It was the first time he worked with former Channel 4 commissioning editor Séamus Cassidy. They later set up the production company Happy Endings Productions, and together they produced (and Ó Briain presented) the chat show Buried Alive (2003) and most famously in Ireland The Panel (2003-2006). He has also appeared and hosted the stand-up show Live at the Apollo.

Panel shows

The Panel is an Australian television programme originally produced by Working Dog Productions. The Irish version, also called The Panel, was hosted by Ó Briain. Three times nominated for the Best Entertainment show IFTA (Irish Film and Television Award) the show has a rotating cast of panellists, usually drawn from the world of Irish comedy, discussing the events of the week and interviewing guests. The most regular panellists have been Colin Murphy, Ed Byrne, Neil Delamere and Andrew Maxwell.

Around 2002, with his profile rising in the UK due to his one man shows at the Edinburgh fringe festival, Ó Briain began to appearances on UK television shows such as Bring Me The Head of Light Entertainment (a Channel 5 production) and Never Mind The Buzzcocks. At the start of 2003 he hosted the second series of BBC Scotland's Live Floor Show. His big break in UK television came in 2003 when he made an appearance as guest and, ultimately, four appearances as guest host of the popular news quiz, Have I Got News For You.

He was nominated in 2003 at the Chortle Comedy Awards for Live Comedy in the categories Best Compère and Best Headline Act (which he would go on to win). In 2004 he won the Best Headliner award again, as well as being nominated for Best Full-length Show. As of 2005, he can be seen hosting the comedy panel game Mock the Week on BBC television, a blend between Have I Got News For You and Whose Line is it Anyway?. He is a relatively frequent panellist on QI, and wrote about Ireland in the QI series E annual. Occasionally he can be heard in repeats of Just A Minute on Radio BBC7.

Tours, Columnists and Chat-shows

Other notable television work includes hosting the BBC sitcom writing competition "Last Laugh", and two documentaries which re-created the British comedy novel "Three Men in a Boat". For this, Ó Briain rowed up the Thames with Griff Rhys Jones and Rory McGrath. Recently they have recorded the sequel "Three Men in another Boat", in which they raced from the Tower Bridge to the Isle of Wight

In August 2005, Ó Briain returned to the Edinburgh Festival for the eighth consecutive time, for a run at the Assembly Rooms which was the biggest selling solo comedy show of the festival. On 14 September 2005, he appeared as a guest on Room 101, where he got rid of children's television presenters (originating from his co-presenters on Echo Island) and once-in-a-lifetime experiences (he was given a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the show, by being the first guest ever to pull the lever that opens the chute to Room 101), banter, Gillian McKeith (host of You Are What You Eat) and magicians.

Ó Briain conducted his third and largest multinational tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland in early 2006. This included 66 shows across London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Belfast, as well as 9 nights in Dublin. His second night in The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London was recorded for his first live DVD. His fourth multinational tour followed in late 2007, which as he says in his routine has "no title" but was almost entitled "You Had to Be There". Ó Briain has also been an extensive newspaper columnist, with pieces published in many national papers in both the UK and Ireland, from the Sunday Times to the Daily Telegraph. On 9 August 2006, he hosted the first episode of his new celebrity chat show, Turn Back Time.

Personal Life

Ó Briain's wife Susan is a doctor. Ó Briain describes himself as an atheist, but "ethnically Catholic": "I’m staunchly atheist, I simply don’t believe in God. But I’m still Catholic, of course. Catholicism has a much broader reach than just the religion. I’m ethnically Catholic, it’s the box you have to tick on the census form: ‘Don’t believe in God, but I do still hate Rangers.’

He also is a supporter of the GAA.


DVD Releases

  • Mock The Week: Too Hot For TV (2007)
  • Dara O'Briain: Live At The Theatre Royal (2007)
  • '' Dara O'Briain Talks Funny: Live In London (2008)


External Links

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