'This isn’t a platform for sincerity,' says Tommy Tiernan towards the top of the show. It’s neat summation of his approach to stand-up as a whole, and perhaps a reminder to some of his more earnest and sombre colleagues that theirs is a charmed profession. Or, as he puts it, 'we’re in a theatre of devilment'.
The pro that he is, he saves the best for last, in all its phallic glory. A top comic on near top form.
Strange to hear then that the man who you would imagine has a very lax relationship with piety tell us that he began the day by going to mass. In his worldview, though, a lapsed Catholic is the ideal one – it’s all just a collection of stories after all. How else, he asks us, can we be expected in a court to swear an oath to truth on a book of make-believe if we don’t take into account the cosmic madness of it all? Tiernan operates in this hinterland between certainty and uncertainty, where he has all the space he needs to produce some of the sharpest material of his career.
Ensuring that any definitive opinions on subjects are left in the wings allows him to play with hot-button topics without the limitations of propriety. The island of Ireland should be united – it’ll kick off the project of Irish imperialism. Abortion should be legal – mothers can choose to terminate the child up until they are eighteen years of age. Ireland should take in as many refugees as possible – on the proviso that they’re relocated to Leitrim with a view to reinvigorating Gaelic football in the county. This unique mix of common sense and impracticality makes the reintroduction of drink-driving seem like the most natural thing in the world. Granted it loses something on paper, but his delivery is as good as ever, segueing from section to section while the audience is still recovering from the last.
The instinct is always there to compel him to end the show on the question of sex, the most taboo subject in the Roman Church. We are given a shaggy dog story of Tiernan trawling the streets of Soho during a weekend away with his wife, looking for something to offset the emasculating effects of his cholesterol medicine. For someone who insists early on that we can only know the world through our minds, the body seems so overwhelmingly real at times. The pro that he is, he saves the best for last, in all its phallic glory. A top comic on near top form.