Tommy... well red on his Cork audiences!

Comedian Tommy Tiernan sits down with Roisin Burke ahead of his Live At The Marquee shows, to talk about his beloved Liverpool FC, intrinsic values and why he revels in not knowing why audiences love him
Tommy... well red on his Cork audiences!
Tommy Tiernan performing Live At The Marquee. Pic Darragh Kane

WITH an air of unpredictable mischief and an aura of charm, Tommy Tiernan was back in Cork scoping out his old haunts before taking to the stage at Live At The Marquee on Thursday, July 4 and Friday, July 5.

The Navan comedian, who has been living in Galway for the past 30 years, chatted about starting his career in Cork back in 1995, as well as the recent Champions League win of his beloved football team Liverpool and his enjoyment of having the chats.

Discussing the match that gave Liverpool their sixth Champions League title, Tommy, who has been a Reds fan since 1977, said it was fine, but described the Liverpool versus Barcelona semi-final as something he would remember forever.

“The final wasn’t great, but the Barcelona game was amazing. It was very emotional. I watched it with the kids at home, they all love Liverpool too. It’s just a pity that someone has to lose.

“During the Barcelona game, the kids and I were jumping around the place, it was a tidal wave of feeling, it was just an impossible victory. It was phenomenal and we were high, floating, and then the camera panned around Anfield to this six-year-old Spanish kid who was there with his dad and I was there — ah, don’t spoil it! That is the only thing about sport, there has to be a loser.”

Tommy said it was still incredible to see Liverpool win. “I was trying to think what would be the equivalent of the that in Ireland and I decided it would be if Mayo finally won the All-Ireland.”

From one great high to the next, Tommy moved on to his love of stand-up and talked a little about what motivates him to do what he does.

The comedian spoke of a book he read by Mark Rowlands, which described the difference between things with an inherent or intrinsic value. “Things that have an inherent value would be that the actual doing of it itself is not as important as the effect that it has on you.

“For example, many people work in jobs they really don’t like, but the reward is the wage packet at the end of the week and making sure that their family have a house to live in.

“Something with intrinsic value is that just the doing of it is enjoyable … I am a person who is not able to do work that doesn’t have an intrinsic value.”

The comedian said there is “something about doing stand-up that irrespective of what you might earn and the status it might give you… there is something about doing the thing itself that is really enjoyable.”

Tommy Tiernan. Picture: Colm Hogan
Tommy Tiernan. Picture: Colm Hogan

Comparing acting to his comedy, Tommy said: “ Acting is like dipping your toe into the water and stand-up is total immersion. Jumping headfirst into the pool.”

Tiernan, who will be kicking off his fourth season of his wing-it style talk show next year, said conversation was another thing he really enjoyed. “Conversation is enjoyable. The oral art form of talking and listening has intrinsic value to me, irrespective of what consequences come from it. These things are more important to me.”

Tommy said he was looking forward to plamasing the Cork audiences with his show Paddy Crazy Horse.

“In stand-up, there are three energies in the room. I bring notions and the crowd bring expectations and the third energy is the show... so I have stuff that I was to talk about, they have stuff that they want to hear, neither of us gets our own way and this third thing is created that becomes the show.

“I have started writing the next show already. It is that thing that, I can’t write a show without an audience. The audience pulls a show out of me that I can’t access by myself. I need the audience to help me create the show.”

Tommy said despite being one of the most popular comedians in Ireland, he has notebooks full of ideas that would never work.

“They are not interesting, they are only interesting to me. I want to talk about the bible and Chinese people. They are interesting to me but not interesting to an audience.”

One of the things Tommy does to ensure he stays connected to the LATM audience in terms of their enjoyment of his show, is he hangs microphones around the room from the ceiling which are connected to monitors that play back to him on stage. “There can be too much of a gap between the audience and the comic and in the marquee, there are 4,000 people there. You can see people laughing, but you can’t feel it. So I hang monitors over different parts of the audience and I can hear when people laugh and it helps me feel I am in the gig.”

In terms of his appeal, Tommy said there is no knowing why celebrities are popular. “Once you think you know why people love you then it is over because you start becoming a product and you start thinking does this really fit in with my image? And as a creative entity, you are spent. It has to remain a mystery if you know why people like you, you should never gig again. It has to stay, you walk out on stage and you think I really have no idea why you are all here, but this is what I do.”

Despite this, Tommy has an inkling as to his enthusiastic audience. “I am really attracted to that thing that you really shouldn’t be saying, but that is where the thrill is and that is where the laugh is and that is where the mischief is and that is where the attraction is — to the uncontrollable.”

Tommy Tiernan performs his show Paddy Crazy Horse at Live At The Marquee (LATM) on Thursday, July 4, and Friday, July 5. Tickets are available on

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