Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan isn’t panicking over getting older.
Tiernan – who’s performing at Moncton’s Capitol Theatre on Thursday evening – says that he is actually enjoying getting older, even if it is in a non-conventional way.
“I’ve been enjoying the panic of age and just trying to accept it,” he says from his home in Ireland. “I have figured that if I can forsake triathlons, Viagra and (touting) achievements, I am bound to find myself a lively life.”
Contrary to the notion that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, a conversation with Tiernan reveals an enlightened sort of wisdom that, it could be argued, only comes with age.
“When you’re in your 20s and 30s, I think everyone believes that achievements and status are important. By the time you hit your 40s though, you realize that it’s just a waste of time to keep focusing on those things. I’ve reached that point in my life, and it is informing the work I am doing now.”
In a roundabout sort of way, Tiernan’s current non-consuming ways harken back to his younger days when he was living in Galway, Ireland.
“I was unemployed for a long time – from the time I was 18 until I turned 26 years old. I was living in Galway, a place that was seemingly designed for the unemployed. There wasn’t many who had money. Everyone was forced to live rather frugally. People would get paid on Wednesday, have a few pints at the pub that night and then stay home until the next Wednesday, playing cards, going for walks and the such.”
Tiernan says that, despite Galway not sounding like the most optimistic place to live, it was a vibrant community, full of music, arts, poets, actors and students. He says that upon turning 26, and with an 18-month-old son at home, he decided it was time to make something of his life.
He knew he enjoyed making people laugh, and was something that came to him rather naturally.
“I decided I was going to make comedy work for me, and fortunately, it ended up working.”
Tiernan took the inspiration for his stand-up comedy from the everyday conversations taking place around him at Ireland’s various pubs.
“You cut your teeth in conversation when you were having a drink with your friends, trying to make them laugh. The earliest days of my stand-up career were very much informed by the way that Irish people interact with each other,” Tiernan says.
“It wasn’t something that I had to learn. I could just be myself.”
Tiernan is the first to admit that he has crossed the line into offensive territory with various things he has said in the past. He offers no excuses, but rather says the lines between trying to get laughs and not having an exorbitant amount of time to vet what he is about to say have played into such situations in the past.
“There have been times where I have crossed the line and ended up saying something that offends. You’re on stage and in the moment, running on a sort of blind instinct, and you don’t always have the time to measure the impact of what you’re going to say. You’re looking to get laughs of course, but there are some times you just happen to get it wrong.
“In terms of saying something that really earthquakes the status quo, I don’t have a problem with that at all, but it is never an agenda that I purposely pursue. I’ve always believed that it’s a true clown that not only undermines himself, but undermines the circus as well,” he says.
Reflecting on his last two decades in comedy, Tiernan remains as ambitious, and as grateful as ever. From the sleepy town of Galway to headlining comedy stages all over the world, the Tommy Tiernan of 2015 is content with the way that his life has unfolded.
Not only has Tiernan stopped chasing success, he is one of the fortunate ones that success has found.
“I am still ferociously ambitious about the show I deliver,” Tiernan says. “I find myself less concerned about the size of the rooms I am playing, how many tickets I am selling, or if I am on television. The time will come in another 20 years, when I am 66 years old, where I am no longer ambitious about where I get seen or who comes to see the show.
“In a lot of ways, though, I feel as though comedy is just scratching the surface. We really haven’t found the Bob Dylan or T.S. Eliot of comedy. Just thinking of that prospect helps move me forward with a great deal of excitement.”
What: Tommy Tiernan
When: Thursday, April 9, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Capitol Theatre, 811 Main St., Moncton
Tickets: $45, advance tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office (811 Main St., Moncton), by phone at 506-856-4379 and online at capitol.nb.ca.