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Outside it's America
In Ireland, he’s the biggest name in comedy – a superstar who can pack them into live shows and shift DVDs by the jumboload. But having conquered his homeland, Tommy Tiernan faced the question: where to from here? The answer was America, the Holy Grail for anyone in the entertainment business. The story of his battle to win hearts and minds is captured in Jokerman – Tommy Tiernan Takes On America, a documentary series that is about to hit the screens on RTE. But first, there’s the important matter of a Hot Press interview to attend to.
Olaf Tyaransen, 17 May 2006
OLAF TYARANSEN: When I interviewed you just over two years ago, you told me that you had absolutely no interest in ever making it in America. You’ve obviously changed your mind.
TOMMY TIERNAN: I haven’t changed my mind – I’ve evolved. Ha, ha! Yeah, I really worked hard in Ireland over the past two or three years. I was gigging maybe six or seven times a week – as in, I was gigging four nights a week, but maybe doing seven shows. It was kind of relentless. I went straight from Cracked and then had about six weeks to come up with Loose. So there was no real break or anything like that. I did a lot of driving, a lot of bad cups of tea in service stations, a lot of late night tramping across the country, a lot of desserts in hotels – the sweet tooth [pats stomach and smiles] – a lot of hard work and a lot of sweaty places. So I came to the end of Loose, which we more or less finished with a gig down in Cork in front of 5,000 people.
That was a huge crowd.
It was incredible. Stand-up very, very rarely gets to feel like rock ‘n’ roll. Because stand-up is small and you don’t have the paraphernalia. But that Cork gig was the one time in my life where I was going, "This is what it must feel like." The stage was set up for bands, so it was impressive. And coming off stage you went down this huge stairs, out the back of the marquee to the dressing rooms. I came offstage and someone threw a towel around my shoulders!
Oh, very rock ‘n’ roll!
Yeah! I’m sure I’ve seen it in a U2 documentary. Ha, ha! But anyway, I’d come to the end of that cycle. And I knew I didn’t want to go straight into writing another show and going on another Irish tour. So I was wondering what to do. So I took a little break – three or four months off. And I found the idea of England quite boring and uninspiring. So then I thought of America. Why not go to these small comedy clubs, where nobody knows your name, and make it exciting again? And America’s much more thrilling than...[pauses]