Tommy Tiernan

Tommy Tiernan

Date of birth: 16-06-1969

Born in County Donegal, Tommy Tiernan burst on to the comedy scene in 1996, when he won the So You Think You're Funny? award for newcomers at the Edinburgh Fringe. Two years later he was scooped both the Perrier Award, and the Best Stand-Up title at the British Comedy Awards.

He has never been a stranger to controversy, with his very first appearance on RTE's Late, Late Show in November 1997 attracting a record number of complaints for material about 'the Lamb of God'. The routine also led to him being accused of blasphemy in the Irish Senate.

In 2007 some families of people with Down’s Syndrome complained about one of Tiernan's routines about the condition; and in 2009, when how comedians should be reckless, he was accused of anti-semitism when saying of the Holocaust: 'Six million? I would have got 10 or 12 million out of that. No fucking problem! Fuck them. Two at a time, they would have gone...'

Nevertheless, Tiernan is second only to U2 when it comes to live ticket sales in Ireland - with his Loose tour selling a staggering 166 dates in Dublin's 1,000-seat Vicar Street venue. And his DVDs - including Cracked: Live at Vicar Street, Loose and Jokerman: Tommy Tiernan in America - have all achieved multi-platinum sales.

Tiernan is also popular in Canada, where he is a regular at Montreal's Just For Laughs festival, Australia, New Zealand and America, where he has performed three times on The Late Show with David Letterman.

In April 2009 Tommy set the Guinness World Record for the longest Stand-Up Comedy Show by an individual - 36 hours and 15 minutes. The record was broken later that year by Australian comedian Lindsay Webb, and it is now held by American Bob Marley, who performed for 40 hours..

Tiernan has five children and is married to Yvonne, his manager. They live in Galway.

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Tommy Tiernan returns to sitcom

Derry Girls role is his first in 16 years

Tommy Tiernan is returning to sitcom for the first time in more than 15 years.

The comic is currently filming Derry Girls, Channel 4's comedy set against the Northern Irish Troubles in the run-up to the ceasefire.

Chortle can also reveal that Tiernan has signed up to make two more series of his improvised chat show for RTÉ,  in which neither he nor the audience know who his celebrity guests are before they appear.

In Derry Girls, which is based upon London Irish creator Lisa McGee's upbringing in the county in the Nineties, Tiernan plays the father of the main character, 16-year-old Erin. A 'soft southern presence', he is viewed with suspicion by the Catholic northerners.

Apart from Howler, a pilot that he wrote, directed and starred in as part of Sky's Little Crackers strand of shorts in 2012, Derry Girls is Tiernan's first sitcom since the much-maligned Small Potatoes ended in 2001 after two series.  In the Channel 4 show, below, he starred alongside Sanjeev Bhaskar, Omid Djalili and Morgan Jones as the under-achieving Ed Hewitt, a media studies graduate who works in a video store.

Small Potatoes

A source said: ’Tommy came to hate his acting in Small Potatoes, but feels that he’s developed his performance skills since then through his stand-up.’

In 2013, Tiernan was commissioned to write, direct and star in a sitcom for Sky about a discharged psychiatric patient who returns to live with his mother, shot around his home county of Meath. But he abandoned writing the project after two episodes because he ran out of ideas.

When Derry Girls was commissioned, McGhee said: ‘Anything set during the Troubles tends to be a bit grim and bleak, but that just wasn't my experience of Derry as a child and a teenager, it was a joyful place.  I'd like to celebrate that.

‘It was also hugely matriarchal, so I was keen we have a large and varied cast of female characters. There were other things going on in Northern Ireland at that time, there were other stories, I'm excited to have the opportunity to tell some of them.’

The Tommy Tiernan Show, partially inspired by the comic's experience of performing improvised stand-up shows, has been a critical and rating success for RTÉ One, so its recommission for a second and third series comes as little surprise.

Guests on the first series, which began in January, included Russell Howard, jockey AP McCoy, model Vogue Williams and ex-footballer John Aldridge.

- by Jay Richardson

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Published: 19 Jun 2017

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