Tiernan back to his blistering best at Rival
Irish comic Tommy Tiernan made a triumphant return to Stockholm, ripping it up at in a superb show full of primal energy.
Tiernan’s last outing in Stockholm was a high-wire, fully-improvised show at Raw that was both brave and crazy as he battled for supremacy with the louder elements of a boozed-up Friday night crowd, but here he was back in total control.
The odd smartphone photographer notwithstanding, Tiernan ignored all distractions as he tore through a tightly-wound set that teetered on the edge of decency without ever falling into the precipice.
Not that he hasn’t done so before – Tiernan’s reputation as Ireland’s most controversial stand-up was earned many years ago, and during the show he freely admits to having told a racist joke about Ireland’s Romany, known as the Travellers, that he deeply regrets.
“There’s a line in this thing, and you never know about it until you’ve crossed it,” he told the audience.
The parents of the 12-year-old in the front row might disagree as to whether or not he crossed it as Tiernan emptied the contents of the wild world of his mind all over the stage over the course of 90 minutes. For instance, there are plenty of comics that like to think of themselves as edgy, but few enough that will talk about the possibility of their own children being gay and having sex in the parental home.
But as ever, Tiernan is not blue just for the sake of it; much of his more racy material is a reflection on ageing and his own manhood, which he sees as dwindling with his advancing years.
Tiernan also took aim at some Swedish icons, with both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ingemar Bergman getting a rocket, but it was the nation’s tendency to think it was best at everything that bore the full brunt of his ire. “You’re so fucking arrogant it’s almost mistaken for humility!” he roared at one point.
After more than 20 years with just a mic stand for company, Tiernan’s stagecraft is finely honed, and he expertly raises and lowers the tone and tempo of the show throughout.
There are many great stand-ups out there, and indeed many bigger names that will visit Swedish shores in the coming months, but few will be able to match the proficiency of Tiernan, both in terms of material and delivery, and one wonders if his skill won’t be truly appreciated until he has long since left the stage.
“We were born for the hills, lads!” he tells the men in the audience towards the end of his show.
The idea of Tiernan shouting his truth from the top of his comedic mountain couldn’t be more appropriate.