Dara O Briain in numbers

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Time Out dissects the week-mocking Irish superstar’s career

Bear-like Irishman Dara O Briain has become a firm favourite among us Brits. But there’s much more to this fiercely intelligent Bray-born comic’s talent-arsenal than topical riffing on ‘Mock the Week’. As he prepares to play to thousands of Londoners in Hammersmith next week, Time Out comedy boffin Ben Williams has been scientifically calculating what’s made this Irish brain box who he is today. Cue percentages!

The comedian (60 percent)


With a truckload of sharp-witted stories, all told with an easy charm, isn’t not difficult to figure out how Dara O Briain has gained such a huge following. There’s a relaxed interactivity to the ‘Mock the Week’ host’s sets, throwing out open questions to the audience and improvising, with lightning-fast wit, on the often bizarre responses. With no real theme or hook to his solo shows, what keeps people snapping up tickets is O Briain’s reliability – he’s guaranteed to be hysterical.

The children's TV presenter (8 percent)


Before taking up stand-up, O Briain spent three years presenting kids’ telly, on Irish channel RTE. He hosted ‘Echo Island’, a bilingual (English and Irish) magazine programme set on a desert island. He’s since revealed his true feelings towards children’s TV presenters, banishing them to ‘Room 101’ when he appeared on the show, saying: ‘Those people are the most ambitious bunch of pricks you’ll ever meet in your life… It’s vicious; they would stab each other in the eye with a fork just to get the next job.’

The mathematician (20 percent)


The 40-year-old comic’s scientific background (he has a degree in theoretical physics and mathematics from University College, Dublin) rarely crops up in his stand-up. But more recently he’s put his maths skills to use on the box. He co-hosted ‘Stargazing Live’ with Brian Cox and ‘School of Hard Sums’ with Marcus du Sautoy, both programmes aiming to make science and maths more approachable.

The record holder (1 percent)


O Briain’s performed across the globe – Montreal, Paris, Dubai, Adelaide, we could go on – but he’s also cracked gags between countries, on board a British Airways flight. Along with Jack Whitehall and Jon Richardson, he helped set a Guinness World Record for the ‘Highest stand-up comedy gig in the world’, playing to 180 passengers at 35,000 feet.

The rest (11 percent)


As well as hosting ‘Mock the Week’, performing transcontinental stand-up and showing off his maths skills, O Briain’s tour diary-type book, ‘Tickling the English’, remained in the charts for two years. He’s also a keen gamer (the ‘Metal Gear Solid’ series is his favourite) and has been three-times host of the Bafta Video Games Awards. Ultimately, he’s a big geek. A big, funny, massively successful geek. And we Brits can’t get enough of him.

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