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Tommy Tiernan: Crooked Man [Edinburgh 2010]

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Marissa Burgess

Tommy Tiernan takes to the stage in a smart grey suit ­– but that’s where the conventional aspects of this performance begin and end. He starts slowly with the air of a man who has full faith in the material to come and his comedic abilities. Though he’s far from cocky with it, it’s simply the confidence of a man who’s been ploughing his own furrow for years, a technique that seems to have worked throughout his career.

But, he stresses, he has no grand plan and certainly has no ambition for us to learn anything from the hour. Nor will he be expressing a strong point of view, only to amusingly stop himself with a ‘whoa, I was in danger of having an opinion there for a minute,’ every time he begins to rant about something.

Yet for an unopinionated hour it’s surprising in its potential for controversy. Tiernan mimics accents indiscriminately; at one point when he’s doing an Indian accent he acknowledges that the audience might be wondering is racist? Then teasingly adds, ‘I was wondering that myself.’ He plays around with what it and what isn’t PC, and there are several moments where you’re sitting with your hand over your mouth thinking , ‘I can’t believe he just did that’.

But there’s no doubt he’s joking. Though defying all the rules on what is right and proper to joke about, ultimately it’s all good-natured and everyone is cheekily ribbed in turn. The twinkley eyed charmer (yes we know it’s an Irish stereotype but he truly is…) gets away with it.

The other element that makes a Tiernan gig so special is the lyricism. Yes the Irish lilt helps with the musicality but Tiernan has a beautiful turn of phrase and a gift for imagery. Where else would you hear Angelina Jolie described as having ‘lips like duvets,’ or the inefficiency of Irish Guards is expressed with the image of them sitting in a room bamboozled by the plot of the Bourne Supremacy.

Quirks of the imagination invest a freshness into such familiar subjects as why the hell do we need to know about celebrity gossip, or how to squeeze in sex with his wife while the kids are napping. Sublime.

Review date: 28 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Marissa Burgess

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