Tommy Tiernan 2001 tour

Note: This review is from 2001

Review by Steve Bennett

There's a certain lyrical beauty to Tommy Tiernan's stand-up.

Whether he's talking in childlike wonder about some ridiculous scene he's witnessed, or more cynically analysing his relationship with his girlfriend and children, this skillful Irishman has an impressive ability to crystallize his keen comic thoughts into the perfect phrase. Funny, memorable, and sometimes even bordering on the literary.

This is clearly a man enraptured by the English language. Not only can he ponder its mind-boggling ridiculousness ('Can anything else boggle,' he asks. 'Do you see dogs boggling?), but he can also drop in literary allusions from the likes of beat poet Allen Ginsberg without it seeming out of place.

If all this sounds a bit high-faluting, don't be put off. Tiernan is nothing if easy-going. He exudes a natural warm wit and underplayed confidence that makes two hours in his company a delight.

His opening is typically low-key. Announcing himself from offstage, he allows himself to falter in the early stages, as if struggling to get all the observations and gags just right.

Despite the size of the sadly half-empty Wimbledon Theatre, Tiernan dispenses with the mike - a move almost no other comic ever feels confident enough to do, even if playing a room the size of a broom cupboard.

The Galway-based comic then quickly relaxes into his routine with an inspired piece of silliness about fathers who are shorter than their children.

This first section is hardly touched by political correctness, though, as he talks of nutters and Irish tinkers with unreconstructed - but thankfully pretty funny - glee. It's a little too whimsical at times, and occasionally feels a little light, but Tiernan is ruthlessly adept at dragging you into his world where Catholic Mass is like an underground rave and 400-year-old potato ladies bring dizzying Irish music sessions to a mournful impasse with songs of past tragedies.

The second half, though, is much more personal - and is all the better for it. His side-splitting descriptions of the withdrawal method of contraception and tales of his two children will remain with you long after you have left the theatre.

Then, like the manic Irish ceilidh he previously discussed, Tiernan brings his comedy roller-coaster to a halt by mentioning two friends who died of brain haemorrhages, one at an early age.

But this is not the sentimental pathos it threatens to be. Rather, like all the best wakes, it's an enjoyable celebration of all things great about life. A typically uplifting end to an immensely enjoyable show from this skilled master of comedy. Go see.

Steve Bennett
Wimbledon, 2001

Review date: 1 Jan 2001
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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