Tommy Tiernan milks applause and tackles sacred cows at Live at the Marquee

Tommy Tiernan on stage at Live at the Marquee Cork last Saturday. Picture: Miki Barlok

Loping onstage and deftly swatting away a heckler within the first two minutes of his set, Tommy Tiernan was on top form at the Marquee.

The crowd were all dressed up and many had a pint or cocktail or two and were ready to be entertained. Laughter bubbled up the moment he took to the stage but Tiernan took nothing for granted.

He had a planned routine but is seasoned enough to veer away from it to make a cutting local observation or to eviscerate a second heckler who didn’t learn from the first one — and then get right back on track.

Tiernan has been in hot water a few times in the past for controversial comments and alluded to this when he noted that he’s here to say all those things us regular folk can’t dare to in case we end up divorced or sued.

Topics whirled from cows to communion outfits and from thongs to marathon runners. And many wickedly accurate remarks had the crowd wiping tears of laughter from their eyes.

True to form, Tiernan didn’t shy away from what many might consider ‘dangerous’ comedy topics. Abortion and euthanasia somehow had the crowd in fits of laughter. Well, except for one gentleman near me who sat stony-faced throughout. He checked his ticket at regular intervals, leading me to speculate that perhaps he had intended to go to a Tommy Fleming concert and ended up here by mistake.

Decades of travelling around on comedy tours have given Tiernan what might be best described as a horrified fascination for rural quirks and small town traits. I think it’s safe to assume Tipperary, Fermoy, and Dunmanway won’t be putting his quotes about their regions on any tourist pamphlets.

We might think we’re a hip, liberal society now, with our gay marriage referendum and our Taoiseach who happens to be gay, but Tiernan, while celebrating how far we’ve come, also skewers lingering prejudices.

Several times, Tiernan realised he had said something so ‘bad’ that he cackled with laughter at himself — and the audience loved it.

Old people, British soccer fans, Irish fans of British soccer, menopausal women, gardaí — all fair game for Tiernan.

And even his own personal life got a good public laundering. His wife’s weight, their sex drives, and a romantic weekend away all came up for mention.

At one point he seemed to realise that you can joke about killing off old folks or annoying teenagers but mocking your wife is a step too far — probably for her anyway — and he scrambled to take back a particular remark.

She might not want to do a full stand-up routine but I’d imagine Mrs Tiernan is one lady who’d make a great interview subject — and surely she deserves her chance to get her own back after all this time. Make Tommy sit offstage with a camera on him as she talks and you’d definitely sell out the Marquee again.

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