Andrew Dipper

DVD Review: Tommy Tiernan – Crooked Man

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Tommy Tiernan’s latest DVD, Crooked Man, is shot in a small comedy club in Cork, and recorded with eight motion film cameras. As a result, the natural experience of watching this particular recording further colours the truth telling image of Tiernan, and often strengthens the everyman storytelling in this performance.

A hugely popular figure in Ireland, Tiernan is second only to U2 when it comes to live ticket sales in his homeland; so it is little surprise the nation’s economic downturn provides a backdrop for much of the show. And with the Eurozone Crisis continuing to make the front pages, these particular chunks of material achieve prominence in his set. Barrack Obama may think Ireland has a great future ahead of itself, ‘But what about the present?’ asks Tiernan.

There’s a Joycean strand to his shtick on Irish identity; Tiernan stresses the importance of his nation’s cultural individuality, despite the chaos of the surrounding world. And ultimately his outlook on life – warts and all – is genuinely heartening: ‘We’re only about eight or nine shit decisions away from freedom’ he jokes. ‘It’s not about getting it together.’

Getting it together, though, is something Tiernan does expertly, often beginning a routine with a seemingly nonsensical quip that, with passion and patience, evolves into an undeniable moral truth.  Want to know the difference between Islam and Christianity? It’s merely a case of furniture.

But then, out of the silliness, comes an almost poetic line about how Catholic churches promote images of struggle and hurt to make you feel loved.

When writing Ulysses, James Joyce said: ‘If I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.’ Like Joyce, Tiernan’s deconstruction of Irish life ultimately blankets these universal values: issues of identity, family, religion and, of course, the first time you get to touch a girl.

In the season of good will, you’ll struggle to find a more invigorating and truly uplifting show to watch this Christmas. Crooked Man is a must-see.