Tommy Tiernan: Eh at Montreal 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Tommy Tiernan has very firm ideas about a lot of things, not least of which is stand-up itself. ‘Its not intellectual,’ he rages. ‘It’s reckless. It should offend as many people as it can. There are things that will be said in here that will not work in the outside world.’

And let no one say he doesn’t practice what he preaches in this conspiratorially bonding rhetoric. His comedy is uniquely visceral; a powerful unleashing of the elemental emotions of rage, love, lust and frustration through barely controlled passion.

He’s a forceful, fearless comedian, and although he gives the impression – and often the deed – of impulsiveness, these are things he’s thought about, combining the insight of a man who defiantly wants to buck any accepted lines of thinking with the lethal turn of comic phrase we’ve not seen since Dave Allen’s day. In an age of glib sarcasm, Tiernan’s a fierce communicator with a sharp, independent mind - which is why he is such a festival favourite.

He challenges comedy’s liberal consensus by asserting that President Obama will change nothing. The whole system needs to go, he believes, along with the bureaucratic lawbooks full of petty rules that stop us all from being free. Personal liberties – real personal liberties that mean you can even be a drunken fuckwit if you so wish – drive his rage.

But while the inflamed delivery is never less than oratorial, not everything is concerned with the great issues. He warms himself to his Canadian audience with quips about various towns he’s visited on a major tour of the nation. Each is greeted with pavlovian cheer; though it’s normally misplaced, as Tiernan’s very rarely advocating visiting any of these ourposts.

Equally, the final routine, the best in the show, is on that most domestic of topics: trying to get some sex while babies sleep nearby. How many new-dad comics have we seen mention this – but in floridly describing every often embarrassing detail of the process, Tiernan, now a father of five, makes it personal, passionate and singularly funny.

Such routines may be as predetermined as the next comic’s, but Tiernan channels such devil-may-care, all-caution-to-the-wind attitude that makes the ride exhilarating

Review date: 25 Jul 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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