Strolling down the sun dappled road in the suburbs of Cork, the crowd are in fine form.
There’s a whiff of factor 15 and a frisson of fun in the air. Good-natured banter and the thrill of the anticipation of a good night out.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks,” says one middle-aged madam in a glorious multi-coloured dress to her three friends as they link arms and adjust bra straps.
There’s gaggles of girls, hand-holding couples, gangs of over-40s, a smattering of teens, and everyone various shades of sunburn and tan brown — and orange, if I’m honest. The last of the day’s sunshine glints off an army of sunglasses as we march towards the Marquee.
We’re all here for the Tommy show. “Cork, how the fuck are ya?” And with that, he spools us in as soon as he steps on stage, this shaggy sage, swerving through the absurdities of Irish life.
Twenty years since he won the Perrier award at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, Tiernan maintains his mastery of the mischievous, the madcap, the manic.
He meanders through his set, most of the time he is wild-eyed with energy, but he knows when to dial it back, he almost achieves quiet contemplation at one point.
Tommy catches our hands and benevolently takes us on a wander around his wild imagination, inter-splicing truths, half-truths, and blatant bullshit.
The trick is to know which is which.
We’re getting all the Tommys in the tent tonight.
Thoughtful Tommy talks about the pressure pot of our health service and the abortion referendum.
Tender Tommy as he mooovingly (sorry) muses on the somewhat sensual beauty of a cow.
Truculent Tommy, defiantly calling out the insanity of loosening up the drink driving laws in rural Ireland. Tale-telling Tommy, revealing far more than we need to know about his sexscape and the time he ate nettles and ended up in a mad house in Mullingar. And of course, from start to finish, Timing To A Tee Tommy.
I’ve seen Tiernan on TV, a real-life failed priest acting as a priest in Fr Ted and playing a dad in Derry Girls.
I’ve marvelled at his interviewing technique on his groundbreaking chat show, I read his weekly column, I’ve heard him rámashing as an interviewee himself, and tuned in when he turned his hand to being a radio DJ.
But, as he said himself in a recent interview, this is his real gig, this — sweating and striding across his stage, spinning stories.
It’s my first time seeing Tiernan live and it was a privilege and a joy and I hope it won’t be my last.
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