Tommy Tiernan in Dubai

Irish comedian prepares for big stadium visit to Dubai

Interview

On being a comedian
It suited my imagination, the fact that it was something that I could do by myself. I’d always been a big fan of solo artists when I was growing up; people like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. I’m not able to sing, but I think that it was the combination of being able to work by myself in something that I had natural abilities in as a performer and as a writer.

On past jobs
I stacked shelves, I dressed up as a chicken outside a supermarket, I worked on building sites, in bars and in youth clubs, but mainly I was on the dole [receiving unemployment benefits].

On his career turning point
I was 25 and I had a natural energy to do something. I think a lot of people spend their early 20s sort of floating through college and then something happens in your mid-20s where your energy kind of changes. I became a father when I was 24, so my son was only one and a half, and it was so natural that I didn’t need discipline to do it.

On his first gig
I hopped on a bus and travelled to Cork and got paid 60 quid [Dhs340] and the excitement of that was phenomenal. I remember doing late night gigs in Dublin and I had nowhere to stay, so I was wandering around the city until 5am and then going up to the train station and sleeping the whole way home.

On being on stage
It’s like somebody has given me something to play with. I feel like a child with a toy army or a teenager with a basketball. I love that and I’m drawn to ideas and philosophies and art.

On his earliest memories of comedy
It was watching sitcoms like Only Fools and Horses and seeing Dick Emery and Morecambe & Wise on TV. I remember hearing the set up line and trying to come up with the punchline before the television did.

On shaming his kids
I’m an embarrassing father. My children never appreciate me trying to be funny – like answering the door in one of my wife’s skirts or something like that. I find it hilarious.

On controversial material
I regret some stuff and I think you pay the price for some of it. Irrespective of other people’s opinions, you have to live with yourself. Of course there have been things that I’ve said that I would have suffered for. I think your conscience and self-esteem takes a beating and you have to serve your time and face up to it.

The worst heckling he’s had?
I’ve had stuff thrown at me on stage, people falling asleep and people leaving half way through a show. It’s very rare that you get a funny one.

On his upcoming Dubai gig
This show is less Irish than the last one. It’s more about realising that there is a fresher kind of madness inside of me. The older you get, the less you care about what other people think about you. I have a lot of ambitions for the show, but not in terms of making it in America and Europe, the way I was when I was starting off. My ambition has changed. I find that the culture we have at the moment doesn’t really want men to embrace getting older. It wants us to enter triathlons, buy expensive watches. So the show is about getting old disgracefully but in a fresher kind of outdoor madness way.

His favourite classic joke
I got this joke from a man in County Monaghan, Ireland. I never ask for jokes but this guy said he had one for me if I’d send him a fiver. So I did and this joke arrived in the post: ‘Two flies playing football in a saucer. One says to the other, “Try harder, we’re playing in the cup tomorrow.”’ [Laughs].
Dhs175. March 26, 9pm. Dubai Duty Free. Tennis Stadium, Garhoud.

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