Brownstein: Tommy Tiernan raises Cain at Le Gesù in the latest Just for Laughs show

“Offstage, I’m probably as sensitive as everyone else,” says the Irish comedian, in Montreal to present his Tomfoolery show. “But onstage, there’s a kind of innocent recklessness about me.”


Once again, irony abounds as Tommy Tiernan presents his latest solo exhibition Just for Laughs, Tomfoolery, in the auditorium of Le Gesù, a church.

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As those familiar with Irish comics know, there is very little that is sacred about Tiernan, particularly religion. He struts onstage as an overly energized anti-prophet, boiling fire and brimstone, shooting down institutions that even the most ignorant could avoid. He and he invariably leave fans of him in stitches.

But even fans of Tiernan may not be aware that were it not for a high school theology teacher, he might have been a bible-talking priest himself, and probably not the provocative father of six in which has since become.

“I was about to become a priest, but my academic grades in theology weren’t high enough,” recalls Tiernan, who is in the midst of his six-day commitment at Le Gesù. “They wanted me to repeat my exams, but I didn’t. They even came to my house and had talked to my parents about joining the priesthood. My parents seemed interested. It wasn’t like I was someone back then who had other options, so I was unemployed until I was 27.”

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But he has made up for lost time with a vengeance on the comedy circuit for the past quarter century. “I’m just genuinely disqualified from doing anything else.”

Tiernan forgot that he had played Le Gesù the last time he was here, in 2014.

“But as soon as I walked in, I said, ‘Jesus,’ and then I was hit by a bolt of energy. And all energy is appreciated. A sleeping pole dancer is doing no one a favor. All I want is to have enough power to run the pole.”

Tiernan seems to have more energy than his fair share. He has just returned to his hotel room after an extended run through downtown Montreal on another sweltering afternoon. Hope for? Tiernan is a runner? He doesn’t compute.

“I have to drag this corpse into the next century,” muses Tiernan, 53. “My mission is to die at 140.”

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Good news for those who will be close. By then, you will have a Bible full of anger issues.

Before his last visit to JFL, Tiernan mentioned that he was turning a page, that he was entering “the Leonard Cohen phase” of his life, that he was becoming more serene.

Well, serenity not now in Nonsense. The usual targets are under scrutiny, and a bunch of new ones too. Tiernan is understandably at odds with the situation in Ukraine, but Moncton? By the way. No spoilers here, but he does let loose like a man possessed and shot out of a cannon on some topics. He is the kind of manic delusion that comes from being cooped up for two years during the pandemic with his family of six in the wilds of Ireland.

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Tiernan says that a part of her performance is impromptu and depends on her mood the night of the show.

“All you can do is pray for consistency and the right winds that go through you when you improvise,” he says. “What’s different is the pacing, the tone and the order of the stories, which I don’t really know until I’m on stage.”

But his delivery and impeccable timing are constant in his shows. Tiernan knows precisely when to attack for both impact and entertainment.

“I play different roles throughout the show. In part, I am the disrupter. On the other hand, I am the charmer. So I am naive. But all of these incarnations have to end in laughter. Bill Hicks was able to bring all of these elements to the table by talking about everything, but it was all about the laughter. And I won’t do anything if it doesn’t involve laughter.”

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Tiernan has never cared to tread where few would dare.

“Offstage, I’m probably just as sensitive as everyone else, and I don’t want to speak out of line. The idea of ​​people being hurt by what I say really bothers me.

“But on stage, there is a kind of innocent recklessness in me. I just spoke to the crowd. I do not ask anything from anyone that they can take it away from me. My job is to find fun the way I find it. I am beyond the reach of those who would want to destroy me. I will always find an audience. I will always find a platform. I can’t be cancelled.


Tommy Tiernan: Nonsense, every night at 7 through Saturday, July 30 at Le Gesù, 1200 Bleury St. Tickets:

[email protected]

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