Every place likes to think it has a unique relationship with a visiting star, I guess, but there's no two ways about it, Tommy Tiernan seems to be at his outrageous best when he's in the capital of the south.
"Come in out of that searing sunshine and come into my tent," he says. "Ye're mad wild down here. I walked past a Montessori school in Youghal and the children were being taught to sing 'Fuck the Guards, Fuck the Guards'. I was in Inchydoney, Ireland's most expensive mental asylum. They're all walking around in bath robes and slippers, out of their heads, and thinking they're on their holidays."
The Cork audience would be quite happy for him to come down here and use his old 'Rebel County' material to deflate our God-given self-righteous pomp. Let's face it, we'd be happy for him to just rerun his classic skits on what historic figures would have been like if they'd had the good fortune to have been born in Cork.
He could just come down here and dine out on the Cork President, the Cork Pope or whatever, or best of all, the Corkman landing on the Moon: “It's alright, but it's definitely not Cork.”
He could have, but he didn't. Instead, what we got was mayhem, diatribes on why a little harmless racism is part of what makes us Irish. And from there he doles out his own brand of race-isn't, with equal measures for all creeds and colours.
The loudest audience roar, however, was reserved for the way he dealt with a heckler who tried to steal his spotlight, who declared herself a proud traveller. In fairness, he conversed briefly, then broke into a rant against her that treaded a very thin line. He reeled it in just enough to keep it what he'd call a playful bit of harmless auld racism:
Tiernan has previously gotten into hot water with borderline jokes. This rant against this heckler definitely reads like racism. Was it? In the tent, it was a functional grabbing back of the spotlight. In print, mmm ... judge for yourself.
Of course, even though Tiernan is very “rock 'n' roll” in his singular attitude to life (honestly, it feels like he doesn't care who's laughing as long as he's enjoying the night himself), if he were an actual rock 'n' roll star, he could actually dine out on his back catalogue instead of having to reinvent himself on a nightly basis, keep making stuff up on the hoof.
There is plenty of musicality in his Thursday night show; he's constantly breaking into song. I won't spoil the surprise for those with tickets for Friday night by giving any more than that away.
However, in his interview with the Irish Examiner prior to this Marquee show, he spoke about his musical influences. Aged 13, not very rock 'n' roll: Chris de Burgh's greatest hits. A few years later moreso, as he graduated to Big Country, Echo and the Bunnymen, then Bob Dylan, U2 and Tom Waits.
When making his way home in the car after a gig, he throws on big hits like Bruce's 'Born In the USA' because “it’s essential that I know the words to the songs because I’m high after the gig and I want to sing”. Well, Tommy, you were definitely on song tonight, and I bet you were belting out Bruce all the way home.
If you were out walking in Cork late tonight and you heard roaring about dusty New Jersey highways coming from a speeding car with a Navan reg plate, then you witnessed one happy comedian who'd well and truly earned his crust.
All I can say is I hope you gave him an appropriate gesture. Keep it to yourself though, unless you're the kind of person who'd enjoy the infamy of being another foul-mouthed anecdote in the Marquee on Friday night. Lay it on thick, Tommy. Around these parts, your slagging is legendary, and that legend gets bigger with every visit.