Tommy Tiernan Alive In Edinburgh (3 stars)

The magic doesn’t quite take hold in the Irish master’s improv hour


This article is from 2015.

Tommy Tiernan Alive In Edinburgh

At one point during this experimental hour, Tommy Tiernan insists that he’s never worked so hard in all his life. Later he posits this is all probably as hard to watch as it is to perform. He’s correct on all counts. You have to wonder why he would put himself through this experience; is he simply bored with the format and regulations of stand-up as he has been performing it with huge success for two decades?

Is he trying to source material from somewhere more primal than that which comes from sitting at a desk in the quiet of a room. Does he simply want to test himself to the limits when the pressure is at its most intense. Whatever the reason, it would be difficult for even his most fervent admirers to say that the experiment is a total success.

It all starts off with a genuine sense of drama as Tiernan lurks deep in the shadows of his stage while we troop in, limbering up like a prizefighter ready to punch his opponent into submission. Once he starts talking he does revert to a structural type, whispering some bits like a kindly uncle, yelling others like a manic preacher, questioning the world and analysing his own place in it.

There are many people who would argue (this reviewer included) that Tommy Tiernan is in the very top drawer of stand-up comics working today. But when it comes to improv, the hope is that this was a one-off dabbling and he will soon return to creating majestic and thought-provoking works of (written) comedy art.

Gilded Balloon, 622 6552, 26, 28, 30 Aug, 7.30pm, £15–£16 (£14–£15).

This article is from 2015.

Tommy Tiernan Alive in Edinburgh

  • 3 stars

Mick Perrin Worldwide Tommy Tiernan Alive in Edinburgh is a full-length, free form, improvised show. No games, no audience suggestions, no picking on the front row, just one man, his mind and his mouth spontaneously combusting. Tiernan’s mastery of stand-up allows him to take risks other comedians dare not, and here he…


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