For just one night only, the lyrical prowess of Tommy Tiernan’s topsy-turvy language could be found reminding the inhabitants of Edinburgh the power located in the basement of Gilded Balloon’s Rose Theatre; a tremendously lively venue which is often cast aside outside of Fringe time. Irish through and through, Tiernan’s Paddy Crazy Horse is a stand-out routine where brief snippets could be removed from context, slapped into soundbites and you would have a seller there and then.
Before asking, yes, Tiernan is Gerry from the sensational creation which is Lisa McGee’s Derry Girls. Thing is, Tiernan is a veteran of the comedy circuit, he’s a basement dweller. Not one to be found in the gilded halls or arenas, preferably in the dank, dingy confines of club undergrounds, a candle-lit illumination the only helpful presence to identify the man. Without a warm-up or blowhard introduction, Tiernan walks onto the stage, says his hellos and casually strolls into his routine which builds momentum until it is a force of insult, wit and grim commentary which cannot, and will not, halt.
If you’re easily offended, or quick to judge, in the kindest way possible – don’t bother showing up. Never a stranger to controversy, indeed it seems to follow Tiernan from the homeland, around the UK and then the states and back. Tiernan’s set pieces reinforce his Irish heritage, where family and national humour sits as a focus. There’s a tremendous amount of ‘angry logic’, a passion-driven delivery of intense aggression which thrusts humour into the room, smashing itself into listeners. It’s that exceedingly wonderful variety of stand-up where the audience laughs, then feels a pang of guilt, a delicious sound to hear from a room who refuse to admit they found something ‘offensive’ comical.
Conversational in construct, Tiernan’s routine isn’t reliant on significant subject matters, and is more a general chit-chat, even if it seems to be with himself. Without relying on audience interaction, his comedic roots lie in observational humour with a stem of identity and satirical jingoism. While this shouldn’t cause an issue with many audience members, there will be the occasional one who finds it odd to identify with Tiernan’s humour. His reliance on the occasional gag which has fine delivery, but dated subject matters such as men vs women, still hits the mark, but bruises the funny bone less than one would hope.
One for an accent or two, Tiernan doesn’t so much aim at any particular target, rather his shots spread themselves far and wide. In terms of performance, no doubt a testament to his acting ability, they hit. He’s a superb storyteller, hanging the room even when taking elongated pauses. Whether it be exaggeration or physical, the punchlines can hit hard, particularly the ones we didn’t expect, those sneak remarks which seem to have fallen by the wayside, only to circle and strike us in the back of the head.
Tiernan is a breed of comedian who refrains from plunging into the foray plenty of new generations of stand-up venture into. His act isn’t designed to entice media presence, drum up deliberate scandal or downward punches. Tiernan is who you are coming to see, and who you will receive, no character or false pretense. His set isn’t dressed up with obvious targets or cheap, easy-to-reach gags. It’s an evening of shooting the shit, living life, take shots at himself, his family and anyone while appreciating stand-up for its roots in the bars and clubs.