Born in Ireland in 1972, Dara O’Briain is one of Europe’s most successful comedians. Fluent in both his native Irish and in English, Dara began working in television for Irish broadcasting company, RTÉ, and spent three years presenting the children’s programme Echo Island, but it was as a team captain on Don’t Feed the Gondolas and as a host on A Family Affair that he came to prominence. During this time, he also spent his time off-air making himself known in Irish comedy circles, performing stand-up gigs when he could.
His quality stand-up act gave him the opportunity to tour around the world, taking him to Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. By 2005, Dara O’Briain was a hugely popular comedian, his Edinburgh Festival Fringe show being the highest selling comedy show of the festival.
Over the years, Dara has appeared and hosted some of television’s favourite comedy shows. He has taken part in British shows such as Never Mind the Buzzcocks, QI and Have I Got News for You, and has hosted The Apprentice: You’re Fired! and Live at the Apollo. In 2003, he teamed up with Seamus Cassidy, who was Senior Commissioning Editor for Entertainment at Channel 4 for over 10 years, and created Happy Endings Productions, an Irish television company which has since been extremely successful. Currently, he is the host of Mock the Week, which is now in its seventh season.
Dara O’Briain, however, is much more than just a funny man. With a scientific mind and a keen thirst for knowledge, he studied mathematics and theoretical physics at University College Dublin. He has been published in several newspapers, including the Sunday Star Times and the Daily Telegraph, and in 2009 published his first book, Tickling the English, which outlined his insights on English culture.
Dara’s scientific background became a significant part of his career when, in 2012, he teamed up with Oxford Professor of Mathematics,Marcus du Sautoy to present Dara O’Briain’s School of Hard Sums. In this show, he and a guest would attempt to solve problems put to them by Marcus du Sautoy. Later the same year, he presented his own show, Dara O’Briain’s Science Club, in which he and a team of experts and celebrity guests tackle scientific concepts and problems. Both shows have generated an impressive audience.
Another of his projects is Stargazing Live, a popular science show based on astronomy, which first aired in 2011. Dara presents the show with scientist Brian Cox, television presenter Liz Bonnin and astronomer Mark Thompson. While the first season was predominantly an introduction to astronomy and centred mainly on the partial solar eclipse that was taking place at the time, the second and third seasons called for themed episodes and included subjects such as the moon, black holes and extra-terrestrial life. Its reputation can be judged from the fact that it has been supported by NASA, The Royal Observatory, Edinburgh and the International Space Station.
Dara O’Briain is proof positive that scientists and mathematicians do not have to be the dull, nerdy individuals that they are often portrayed to be. Rather, he shows that they can also be among the funniest men on the planet.
Ian Carmack is a freelance writer who covers topics around sports, comedy and entertainment.