Tommy Tiernan, the pride of Galway and Navan, Co Meath,
won the prestigious Perrier Comedy Prize at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival
with his critically-acclaimed, sell-out show, Undivine Comedy. Tiernan becomes
the second Navan comic to win the award, Dylan Moran having scored first for Navan
It's one thing for a comedy show to wow audiences, but to score with the critics
adds the cream to the strawberries. One of Tommy Tiernan's biggest fans during
the tree-week run has been Daily Telegraph arts critic Kate Bassett. After first
seeing the show at Edinburgh's Pleasance Theatre, Bassett wrote, "I might
have to go and see Tommy Tiernan a second time. Not only has this young Irishman
made me laugh more than any other comedian at the [Edinburgh] festival, he's also
taking stand-up to a higher plane".
Tiernan first established himself as a comic force to be reckoned with in shows
like Eamonn Kelly's Religious Knowledge, originally staged a couple of years ago
as a lunchtime offering at The King's Head and then, more recently, in a full-length
version of the play staged at the Town Hall Theatre.
Cutting his teeth in Galway Youth Theatre, Tiernan progressed to stage work with
Punchbag Theatre Company, Flying Pigs, and ultimately the sharp humour and social
observation of Religious Knowledge.
At the same time, he was honing his skills as a strikingly original stand-up comedian,
not afraid to take pot-shots at himself nor to throw a comic light on some of
the darker regions of the soul, ours as well as his. A foretaste of his Perrier
success came two years ago when he won the talent-spotting competition called
So You Think You're Funny? at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Tiernan also managed to join that select group of Irish entertainers who've provoked
strong reactions because of the nature of their material. Last year, after he
did a religiously-tinged routine on The Late Late Show, callers filled the phone
lines with howls of outrage. As the old saying goes, there's no such thing as
bad publicity and, in fact, the Late show incident is the basis for his Edinburgh
Kate Bassett's review in the Daily Telegraph highlights at least some of the reasons
for Tiernan's success: "In the Irish tradition, he's a delightful natural
talker and a great storyteller, with a tinkerish twinkle and some beautiful, funny
turns of phrase...Not every day do you come across an observational comic who
takes time to contemplate the state of a man's soul."
Tommy Tiernan now joins the prestigious ranks of former winners of the Perrier
Award such as Eddie Izzard, Jack Dee, Jo Brand, Steve Coogan, Sean Hughes, and
Bill Bailey. Galway Advertiser 1998