Being funny isn’t always easy.
In fact, for Irish stand-up Tommy Tiernan and many of his fellow touring comedians, it’s often downright difficult to keep tickling the humerus night after night.
“It has its challenges to be sure,” says the comic from County Meath, speaking from his hotel room in Corner Brook. “I mean, here I am, a thousand-odd miles from home, in a place I have never been and surrounded by people I do not know. And I’m expected to be in a good mood?”
All joking aside, Tiernan is happy to be here and to be making his Halifax debut this Sunday with two performances at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium—part of the Just for Laughs Canadian tour, which will take him cross-country over the coming month. And though touring might indeed have its tests and trials, the thick-brogued rogue says being on the road is always a strong reminder of the reasons he continues to bring laughter to people.
“Last night in St. John’s was fantastic and a great start to the trip,” he says. “There is maybe something all-too-familiar about Newfoundlanders, however. Perhaps it might have a tad to do with their charming and good-looking forefathers? Whatever it was, their warmth and wit made this weary traveller feel right at home.”
Trekking and talking have gone hand-in-hand for Tiernan since his wee days growing up in his native Eire.
“We moved about the country quite a bit when I was a youngster and I was forever the new kid in school. Being the class clown was my way of making friends and fitting in wherever we ended up. However, I really only started doing stand-up comedy a decade ago,” adds the 36-year-old. “After a lengthy spell as an unemployed young ruffian, I made up my mind that if I was going to work at all it was only going to be at something that I had a flare for.”
This comedian’s penchant for pulling no punches and pushing the right buttons has been endearing him to audiences since that time and there have also been plenty of film and television appearances. In traditional Irish fashion, Tiernan has successfully stitched his passions for performance, literature and humour into a thought-provoking, belly-busting work of art.
“Well, it is no secret that we love to talk and spin a mighty yarn or two, and we are definitely some of the most opinionated arses on the planet,” he says. “And that might be why doing stand-up is the perfect medium for me. I love the immediacy of impact with audiences and the way in which it satisfies my impulsive need to share where I am at.”
His method of madness has its meaning.
“I spend so much of my time just absorbing and taking note of everyday life that I am always in search of new ways to develop and express my ideas and emotions,” he says. “Whether these are observations on politics, religion, the struggle for purpose in life or whatnot, the important thing is to bring this stuff to the forefront of people’s lives and confront the status-quo ways in which we think and feel.”
And, he professes, there is still very much a place in the world for what he and his accomplices are attempting to achieve.
“Humour, now more than ever, has a responsibility to be unpredictable, sacrilegious, blasphemous, obnoxious, outrageous, profane, profound, joyful, hopeful and ultimately uncensored in its scope and subject matter. Comedy still has the power to be an outlaw among the arts and maybe touch people in ways that other disciplines might not. Wrapping all this stuff up in the guise of hilarity and getting an audience to laugh at themselves and the world is a powerful way to open minds before blowing them apart.
“And it blows my mind to think that I get paid to do this. That it is my job to entertain and/or educate myself and others might sound somewhat presumptuous and even a little pompous, but that’s the artistic and cultural liberty of being an Irishman. It might not always be easy to do that day-in and day-out, but it sure beats working a real job.”
Just for laughs, October 29 at the rebecca cohn, 6101 university, 7pm & 9:30pm, $41, 494-3820.