Tommy Tiernan: Into The Whirlwind

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tommy-whirlwindLIKE most of Tommy’s shows, ‘Under the Influence’ at University Concert Hall this week quickly sold out and he has since added a second date this Wednesday December 7. There are a few seats left.

The comedian has brought out a DVD of his mis-adventures at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival where he played 24 full-house shows this summer. Tommy talked to Limerick Post Newspaper about touring the world, storytelling and putting himself chestdeep in freezing Galway waters.

The front cover of Tommy Tiernan’s DVD depicts the comedian up to his chest in the waters of Lough Corrib in Galway. There is a stern look on his face, the look of a man who is enduring a bone freezing penance for his craft.

“That photo was taken in Lough Corrib, my wife and my four year old son were standing at the edge of the lake. And my four year old shouted out as the photo was being taken, ‘mind your peanuts, Dad!’”

For The Whirlwind show Tommy was on the road for about two years. Coast to coast tours of Canada and Australia was followed by visits to Moscow, Dubai and other parts of Europe with the show.

While Stray Sod, his previous show was very Irish in context. The Whirlwind is more outward looking and takes on the world a bit more.

“Yeah, the perspective is Irish but it is not necessarily about being Irish,” he explains.

“In the journey of a show it reaches a few peaks and I felt coming to Edinburgh I’m about to hit another peak with it.

“The audiences in Edinburgh are ideal. They are ruthless but they are up for devilment and it is always boisterous. They may have a ticket for you show because another comedian, like John Bishop or Sean Lough, was sold-out so you might be third or fourth on their list. You are competing not just with comedy, but strippers and jugglers as well.”

Tommy describes the feat of selling out Edinburgh for a month as a privilege. Many good comedians will do one-man shows where no one turns up.

“The privilege I have there is that I am guaranteed 400 people every night.”

And Tommy remembers very well what is was like to play to no audience – and he experienced it right here in Limerick.

“I was doing a play in The Belltable in Limerick years ago. It was the winter of 1989.

“We were doing a show on the night of a World Cup qualifier (Ireland would qualify and compete in Italia ’90 the next year).

“It  was a huge qualifier for Ireland, there was seven of us in the cast. There is this rule in theatre that says, if there are more people on stage than in the audience you can cancel the show. The Belltable in their wisdom invited 12 people off the street, so we were banjaxed – we had to perform the show to these 12 non-soccer people which was hellish.”

With so many of the great and good in comedic talent debunking to Edinburgh every August, is there an opening for comics to work the scene in Ireland in the Summer? Tommy Doesn’t think so!

“Storytelling is a winter project. If you are going to be on-stage in Ireland during the summer, you better have a mandolin.”

“They want dancing, it is when the nights get longer and darker – that is when you want to be around the bright lights of the stage and be told stories.”

Tommy has recorded a new series of his improvised chat show to be broadcast by RTE in January.  ‘The Tommy Tiernan’ has many of the ingredients of a normal chat show but neither the host or the audience know the identity of the guests until they walk out on stage.

Tommy Tiernan’s new DVD ‘Out of the Whirlwind’ is out now. Tommy is live at University Concert Hall this Wednesday November 7. Tickets at www.uch.ie.