omedy has clearly always been a big part of Eleanor Tiernan’s life, even during those early, formative years in sunny Roscommon.
Whatever about cousin Tommy coming around to wax hysterical about the state of the nation, there was also the fact that the father of the house was a prankster of the most dedicated variety.
More of which, later.
Coming to Greystones onThursday, July 7th, there’s also clearly a lot of Method madness to this lady’s messing.
First stepping up on stage in Dublin, Ms Tiernan has gone on to play Glastonbury, Montreal’s Just For Laughs, Latitude and pretty much every comedy festival Ireland has been able to throw at her. Outside of stand-up, there’s been major theatre hits, such as City West Side Story and the award-winning National Therapy Project, whilst TV hits include C4’s Headwreckers, Stand And Deliver, Irish Pictorial Weekly, The Savage Eye plus Bridget And Eamonn. Just to name five. Number fans.
Currently living in that London – where Eleanor enjoys “making social faux pas and losing personal items on public transport“, we decided to find out where all this funny came from.
And what makes the lady herself laugh like a loon…
During the 1980s there was nothing that kids in Roscommon interested in drama or entertainment could look at.
Every year The Late Late Toy Show would be dominated by shiny Dublin kids and I’d wonder who this Billy Barry man was and how I could get his attention. I was too old to be on before I realised Billy Barry was a woman.
After college, I moved to Dublin and began working as an engineer. There I joined an amateur drama group called Parnassus Arts Group – a steely group of civil servants that put on plays around Dublin. The group met in Briody’s on Marlborough St on a Tuesday and it was a tight blend of craic, mayhem and commitment to putting on the best show within our powers. I learned a lot from the gang about performance but also that no one person can take credit for performances as there’s always a huge effort from many people involved.
Then I forgot all that and started stand-up in 2004. It was during the Celtic Tiger and people spent a lot of money on entertainment at the time. It seemed like it would never end. Then the crash came and while things slowed down, comedy was lucky enough not to be completely decimated. Over the years it’s had good times and not so good but people always seem to want it.
My comic inspiration at home comes from my Dad. He has an excellent deadpan face. When we were kids there was a prank he would play on kids in the area. Sitting in the driver’s seat of his car he would beckon a kid over for their help. Then he would ask them to smell the bonnet of his car. “There’s a terrible smell of rashers off it,” he’d say.
At first the child would look at him skeptically no doubt thinking, Mr Tiernan must be gone in the head. However, his straight face was so good that they all eventually succumbed. Slowly, the child would walk towards the bonnet, lean forward and take in a breath through their nose. Sometimes Dad would let them do it twice. “Get closer,” he’d say, “take a big one”. Then when he knew the child had reached the point of genuinely asking themselves if they were spelling rashers, he would beep the horn of the car usually sending the child a few inches into the air with fright.
I never saw it not work.
Catherine Cohen I saw Catherine Cohen at the Edinburgh Fringe and loved her self-awareness and silliness. She won the Newcomer comedy award that year and I wasn’t surprised to see that Netflix have made the show into a special.
Katt Williams It took me a long time to find out about Katt Williams. I knew about all the big stars, Eddie Murphy, Dave Chapelle, Louis CK but never knew this other incredible comedian existed. There’s something about his chaotic energy that sort of connects and feels like a real risk is being taken on stage. He has three specials on Netflix so enjoy!
Bo Burnham More music. Bo Burnham is a really famous and respected American comic for his social commentary and musical talents. He’s in his thirties now but he was saying some very uncomfortable things since he was much younger. That someone of his years was able to make such bleak observations, made it even more powerful. In this clip he has a go at the grandiose ego of comedians themselves which is long overdue.
The Larry Sanders Show This clip from The Larry Sander Show is one I go back to all the time. The program is a fake talk show and blurs the lines between fiction and reality. The star, Gary Shandling, has a vulnerability to him in this show that elevates his comedy for me. I love when at the end, while pretending he’s uncomfortable, he pushes all the crap off his desk to make room for Jim Carrey to sing his praises.
Ruth Jones Finally an inspiration from the UK. Ruth Jones is an incredible comic actress but I love to see it when someone shows they have the range to play serious moments too. Here Ruth Jones, after punchline after punchline throughout Gavin and Stacey, delivers a particularly sincere scene to James Corden. I think she’s class.
You can find out more about Eleanor Tiernan here, and go check out her Greystones July 7th show here.
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