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.
Tommy Tiernan Videos
Tommy Tiernan: Poot
Since poot is a fancy word for fart, it is a perfect title for Tommy Tiernan’s show, which similarly blends the highbrow and the low. And a fart is always funny, an uncontrollable reflex that reminds us of our imperfect, slowly rotting bodies and puncturing all artifice of civility.
Or maybe he just chose the word as it sounds cute and mischievous.
Tiernan’s all for laughter in response to the big issues. This show covers death, religion and mental illness, piercing the taboos that surround them as he impishly exposes the sheer idiocy of situations we tend to pussyfoot around.
He’s received a psychiatric diagnosis himself. He has borderline personality disorder, tip-toeing a line between neurosis and psychosis. But it’s a place where he seems happy, just as he’s happy with the highs and lows of a comedian’s life, swinging from the adulation on stage to the depression of the hotel room.
The joy of the performance is palpable. He gallivants around the stage like a sprite, even briefly frolicking amid a sea of bubbles. He could stake a decent claim to being the most passionate stand-up on the circuit, allowing him to emphasise every phrase and gesture to maximum effect, without seeming forced or phoney. Whether he’s whispering to draw us in or leaping about in madness, like a modern-day Lord Of Misrule.
He clearly devours ideas. He has a philosophy on everything from the effectiveness of prisons to obscure Zimbabwean singers – yep, that hack old subject. But his favourite topic is devilment – he loves the idea of mischief, whether it’s God pranking Job or putting the fun into funeral. This latter practical joke was instigated by a friend who went properly mad. But what is normal anyway?, the lively Irishman asks, we are all various levels of unhinged.
That he takes nothing entirely seriously seems to come from an acute sense of mortality. It sounds sombre to mention it, but Tiernan can have you laughing at a relative’s dying breath or a careless comment directed at his elder brother, who had a cerebral palsy. The story he tells of a childhood family safari starts off seeming to have a point about this… but ends up in broad farce, enlivened by the sheer joy of the word ‘baboon’.
It might seem a lazy thing to say about an Irish comedian, but Tiernan is a rightful heir to Dave Allen, addressing every big issue with a refreshing irrelevance. Poot, poot!
Tommy Tiernan Dates
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Tommy Tiernan: Bovinity
Tommy Tiernan: Crooked Man
Tommy Tiernan: Poot
Tommy Tiernan: Tell Me A Story tour