Tommy Tiernan: Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

By Alan Parry
Wed 17 April, 2019

The Derry Girls star came to Liverpool with a somewhat contradictory show, where political correctness took a backseat, but seemed driven by progression. Alan Parry reports. 

Tommy Tiernan riding the craziest of crazy horses into his beloved city of Liverpool for one night only saw him on top form. The Derry Girls star produced a show that was both silly and serious, which featured all of the rantings and ravings that one would expect from the man they call The TT.

Perhaps to be expected, given that at the time of performance a rather important EU summit was taking place, Tiernan began with the subject of Brexit. From the outside, looking on, he is revelling in our agony. Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, he encouraged us to ride a horse off the edge of the cliff, just for the craic. Tiernan referred to how many posh Britons of history have enjoyed jumping on horseback and leaving havoc in their wake: a sordid past many of us would prefer to forget. But he is not about to let us off the hook that easily.

Some of the material is non-PC. He speaks about the differences between men and women, but does not touch on other forms of gender identification. I left pondering the reason why and as I see it, the reason is simply because it does not fit his narrative.

Tiernan was working his way around the question, are women yet fully evolved? He points to the noise that human females make during childbirth, compared to female donkeys say with the teeth and heads like bookcases that they birth without breaking a sweat as his evidence. The fully evolved women of the future will have barrow legs and pain free childbirth, so he says.

Despite all of this, he does reveal himself to be something of a progressive. For a 50-year-old Irishman his musings on sexuality, religion and abortion are more liberal than one might expect. He has been a stand-up now for almost three decades, and as such knows what works and where it works. He understands how to frame his material. Out of context his jokes would fail, but no more than the material of the TV friendly Jimmy Carr and now BBC documentary maker and political satirist Frankie Boyle.

To this end, one of the most important elements of his act, the figurative spoonful of sugar, is the warmth and heart he displayed for his father and now deceased mother (about whom he tells a side splitting Weekend at Bernie’s-esque story). A further important element is his self-depreciating honesty and awareness. This is a man who knows his limits, who can barely even get the horn anymore.

Doubtlessly, it is this part of his act which makes the less safe material that much more palatable. Having said that Tiernan has been pedaling this type of performance for a long time now, people should really know what to expect when they walk into the theatre.

What I found most pleasing is that Tiernan is still delivering quality content, his voice is yet to diminish.