Reviewer: Jay Nuttall
Tommy Tiernan is a jack of all trades. Predominantly a stand-up he has also branched out into chat-show host, columnist and actor with a recent credit in Channel 4’s hit comedy Derry Girls as well as the obligatory cameo in Father Ted. Tiernan is Irish through and through and, predominantly, his audience also.
As a stand-up on the main stage of The Lowry theatre, Tiernan is a very under-stated comic. He enters the stage without any support and delves straight into his material. Sporting a trilby throughout his very top-lit heavy show has the unfortunate effect of not allowing us to see much of his face and his performance, underneath a giant projection of a stag’s skull bone, creates a slightly strange, somewhat gothic overtone that is at odds with much of his material.
Tiernan’s style of comedy is very conversational – although not with his audience. He has no big set pieces, callbacks or big builds as other comics have. He is obviously very comfortable with mic in hand and has faith that his material is sufficient to carry him through a full-length show – and for the majority it does. Tiernan knows his audience and every mention of Irish geography gets a small whoop from some contingent of the largely Irish Manchester demographic. “I could have done the gig on the ferry over” Tiernan quips.
Much of his material is firmly rooted Tiernan’s love/hate relationship with nationality and identity. Occasionally lapsing into observational, the big laughs are more often than not an Irish put down although there is great pleasure in watching the UK squirm in Brexit chaos from the other side of the Irish Sea. “Go for it!” Tiernan torments, playfully encouraging a Hard Brexit with more than a dash of schadenfreude. Often Tiernan saves some of his deprecation for himself as he cuts himself with his black sense of humour: “I have children even though we have abortion in Ireland now”.
The pleasure of seeing Tiernan work is his quite bullish attitude to storytelling and delivery. On more than one occasion he cuts over a big laugh to the start of a sentence that will form a new section of the show. He can mine comedy in some of the darkest places and his section about his mother’s funeral is relatable to many when life can juxtapose emotions. There are a couple of sections early on in his set that feel a little dated and unoriginal. Whenever a comedian has material about the differences between men and women, unless performed with some originality, they run the risk of being accused of walking on well-trodden ground – and Tiernan does fall into this trap.
Tiernan pleases his highly partisan audience and fills the large Lyric theatre. Despite nuggets of wonderful one-liners and occasional shock, Paddy Crazy Horse lacks a little in overall humour. Tiernan’s style of flying under the radar is amiable but doesn’t quite hit the mark in terms of showmanship.
Reviewed on 7 April 2019 | Image: Contributed