Marissa's Manchester Comedy Festival Diary - The Dancehouse - 21st Oct

Tiernan's one of the big names of the festival yet not a household name – over here at least. As a friend noted as we walked out of the venue, by rights Tiernan should be playing to 10,000 people like Peter Kay across the city. Back in his native Ireland he probably does, but we're glad that he isn't here. The Dancehouse's 300 seat auditorium is cosy, making for a far better and intimate experience. There would be something too corporate about Tiernan playing a larger venue, it would risk the rawness being soothed.

Tiernan is probably one of the most innovative and exciting comedians around, he won the Perrier award back in 1998 and though now over forty, hasn't lost any of his edge. If anything he's got sharper and spikier. The range of subjects in Poot (slang for fart, a nod to the childlike silliness that pervades Tiernan's outlook) is epic, he kicks off with a deconstruction of the bible takes in a couple of other religions, ponders deaths both lengthily drawn out and swiftly sudden, his own diagnosis of borderline personality disorder which leaves him 'not good on his own or with people' and pauses for some domesticity with material on his wife and family.

What pervades in a typical Tiernan set is the sense that he doesn't care what anyone thinks leaving him free to joke about whatever takes his fancy – tonight he spent the opening 20 minutes poking fun at most of the major religions. The couldn't care less attitude isn't dismissive though, instead it seems to exist somewhere between the madman and the child. In fact embracing the lunacy in the world is the main unifying theme of the show. His performance is peppered with pacing, dancing, accents, whispering close to the mic and generally accentuating the glorious madness.

As ever his is an inventively evoked interpretation of the world, a simple child's bubble machine depicts the big bang as overseen by god who is subsequently left morose and alone when all the 'worlds' die when they hit the ground. The man has such a magnificent way with words, the show featuring descriptions such as that of his mental state being like 'watching a film with a tin of Pringles and you've got so many in your mouth you can't hear the film.' Sublime.

Special mention too for Hannah Gadsby a delightful surprise in the support slot. Though not greatly known on the local circuit she's made her mark at the Edinburgh Fringe with a truly dry and sharp wit. From Tasmania originally, she talks candidly about how it is to come out as a lesbian in one of the most narrow minded communities in the western world and all to hilarious effect.

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