Eleanor Tiernan

Eleanor Tiernan

Eleanor Tiernan abandoned her civil engineering training to become a stand-up in 2004 – and within her first year appeared on RTE’s The Liffey Laughs and BBC’s One Night Stand.

In 2007, she starred in the Edinburgh Fringe play Help!, and made her solo show debut the following year. She then played to more than 120,000 people as the support act for her cousin, Tommy Tiernan, on his Bovinity tour,

She also played the ditzy waitress, Emer, on RTE2’s youth-orientated chat show The Cafe.

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Eleanor Tiernan: People Pleaser

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Paul Fleckney

Brexit is creeping into a lot of shows this year. Hardly surprising really, but Eleanor Tiernan’s show, People Pleaser, takes an especially interesting angle on it in. It’s just a shame the execution didn’t match up to the concept. 

The story starts with Tiernan’s family staging an intervention because she’s addicted to helping people out, and ends with the comedian clearly not learning her lesson as she performs the most unspeakable act of self-sacrifice anyone could imagine. In the meantime, she revokes her Irish citizenship and moves to London, only to find herself at risk of deportation because of Brexit. 

It’s a sneakily satirical show – a dark modern fable whose moral is that good human beings don’t get rewarded now, that’s not how the world works.

In our Brexit-y political climate, the idea of a live stage show where immigrants compete to stay seems like the grim logical conclusion. Tiernan weaves the personal among the political, the kind-hearted soul who collects spare buttons from jackets, but who is getting eaten up by the world. 

Not that the show is without personal interrogation – the intervention staged by her family about her ‘addiction’ leads her to reveal that she’s done far worse things they have no idea about. 

I could imagine People Pleaser as a radio play, its gentle pace and marauding plot keeping things chugging along. It is, however, very light on laughs for a comedy show. Tiernan isn’t the type of comic to ruthlessly load up her stories with a gag every 20 seconds, she prefers to tease out humour from her characters or situations – Sarah Kendall is the master of this. But charming as the show is, it doesn’t hit home its comic potential. 

The funniest section is the opener where Tiernan rips the heart out of a promotional film for a spiritual getaway in South America, performing character assassinations on the various smug people in the video. It has vigour and punch and bit of pace, and the rest of the show looks sedate by comparison.

Admittedly, post-lunchtime isn’t an easy slot as people are sliding into their post-prandial torpor, but People Pleaser wasn’t able to hoik the crowd out of it. 

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Published: 11 Aug 2017

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Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Eleanor Tiernan: Help


Edinburgh Fringe 2009

Eleanor Tiernan: Trouble


Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Eleanor Tiernan: Rogue


Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Eleanor Tiernan - Help the Frigid


Edinburgh Fringe 2017

Eleanor Tiernan – People Pleaser


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