Review: Tommy Tiernan – Poot

The Forum is freezing. Admittedly more renowned as a music venue, it’s an uncomfortable spot for a comedy show and absolutely no one inside is prepared to be separated from their winter coat. Therefore the tricky task of ‘warming up’ the crowd falls to Lloyd Langford. The support slot is never an easy gig but the Welshman gets the crowd onside quickly and easily. There are a few simple shots at his Port Talbot heritage and the Welsh weather but Langford’s talent lies in his anecdotes and he finishes on a flourish with a bizarre tale of his first day working in a factory.

While Langford does a good job, there’s only one person the crowd are here to see. London loves Tommy Tiernan. Rephrase that, Ireland loves Tommy Tiernan. An overstatement maybe, but London’s Irish community is out in full force for one of the country’s biggest comedy stars. The fact there is such a large Irish contingent means he’s not going to struggle for a warm reception. It also means that any reference to anything remotely Irish draws huge woops and bellows from sections of the audience but Tiernan deals with it well, doing enough to dissuade anyone from making it a regular occurrence. But regardless of who he’s performing in front of, his show, Poot (a posh word for fart apparently), is excellent.

To describe Tiernan as a controversial comedian would again be an overstatement but he has had a reputation for pushing people’s buttons, albeit in a way that forgoes the acidic touch usually applied by tabloid tearaways like Frankie Boyle or Jimmy Carr. He’s certainly not afraid to tackle weighty subjects, opening with a riff around famine, before moving onto religion, the world economic crisis and mental health, including a frank synopsis of his own mental state.

All the topics are dealt with quite broadly, but Tiernan has an additional string to his bow in the form of his rampant, pacey and loud delivery (while it took time to register, there were several occasions when he wasn’t even talking into the microphone, just yelling at the audience).  For the first 45 minutes he’s utterly relentless and it must be said this bombardier style gets quite tiring, especially during a section on religion which feels a little dragged out. However it’s at this point Tiernan demonstrates his comic skills, suddenly breaking off to whisper segments of his material and instantly pulling everyone back in. Then again, maybe he was just saving his voice.

Highlighting his considerable ability as a great storyteller, the show is rounded off with a string of family anecdotes, which in other hands could have been tame affairs but Tiernan injects them with an energy and manic edge that very few possess. It’s these skills that have made Tiernan a star in Ireland and it seems unusual that on English shores he remains something of a cult phenomenon. On the basis of tonight we’ve definitely been missing out.

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