Being Irish it must have been tough to live this down, but Owen Dara had his mother’s genes and a mere two pints at the pub would plaster him to the wall. In his show Two Pint Wonder, Dara recounted how his friends would say, “We’re going to have a couple of pints with Owen, then we’re going out to drink.”
Dara is a recent Pasadena resident who met our friend Peggy Sue Davis on a night of levity and friendship at the renovated, welcoming, and delicious Altadena Ale & Wine House. From that timely meeting, we found ourselves sitting in the packed Renegade Theatre on Gardner and Sunset and listening to Dara wax on about coming to America, as well as his Irish Catholic upbringing, his varied career path, and his love life.
His show begins with what one might expect, the difference in the meaning of words (Irish vs. America) and how this leads to funny and sometimes awkward misunderstandings (“My wife just passed.” “Where’d she go?”). He also rhapsodizes with the stereotypical Irishman—the drunk one—which he says is a “convenient” stereotype when one is badly, and quickly, in need of a cover. The formula continued with a joke about a girlfriend who couldn’t see the stop sign enough to actually stop, but saw a shoe store quite clearly—200 yards away. But even with the expected, and perhaps a few heavy “pa-dum” deliveries of punchlines, Dara had the audience roaring. When someone was heard saying, “That’s funny,” Dara engaged the man, not intimidating or belittling him, but in an easygoing, off-the-cuff, “laugh with me” manner. This is Dara at his best.
As he wound up his show, Dara grabbed his guitar, sat down on a stool and proceeded to tell us that he would be ending the show with a song, but that then he’d be leaving through the door stage right, after which he expected to be called back on stage for an encore—and he just wanted to make sure the audience understood its part.
The tune he sang was a love song he said, though the chorus—of which the audience was asked to sing with him and they did enthusiastically—stated that “Her name was Raquel/And she didn’t treat me very well.” He instructed the audience in the proper way to shake their head at the end and then praised them, “You’re fantastic; you feel my pain.” In these moments, and through his second encore, Dara is at his most relaxed, engaging, and naturally funny.
His last song was about suicide (he admitted to having suicidal thoughts as a teenager), but, he said, “There is no place for suicide in comedy; so I wrote a song about it.” It was a funny number, and also made us feel slightly uncomfortable, which was apt. By the end, the evening resonated with these moments—when Dara’s comedy hit home because it came from a source that was truly his and he was confidently, honestly, and vulnerably, sharing it with us.
Two Pint Wonder
Sunday, April 28th, 8 p.m.
The Renegade Theatre, 1514 Gardner St., L.A. 90046
Purchase tickets: TwoPintWonder.eventbrite.com
Dara has also published a memoir White Horses: An Irish Childhood. His first (of three) feature films Choosing Signs has just been accepted into the Golden Egg Film Festival at Tribeca Cinemas in New York City in May, and it will have its West Coast premier at the Action on Film Festival in Monrovia, August 16th-24th.