City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Eleanor Tiernan - Help

By Lorraine McCann - Posted on 26 August 2007

Show details
Running time: 
Tommy Tiernan (director)
Eleanor Tiernan, Niamh Tiernan

Eleanor Tiernan’s persona is that of a nervous, self-loathing
stand-up comedian who is struggling with an altogether more successful
alter-ego. A bit like “Fight Club” meets Bridget Jones, with a dollop of Beckett
thrown in for good measure.

The stage is bare as Tiernan sidles on. She is a slight,
vaguely androgynous figure, dressed in black trousers, stripey shirt and tie
and a grey waistcoat. Her unruly hair is casually pinned up. In a corner of the
stage there also appears another woman, very different in appearance, with long
blondey hair and a bright red top. Tiernan looks a bit like she might have
spent the night sleeping in a skip, whereas the radiant other looks to have
stepped fresh from a heavenly spa.

What then ensues is some fairly well-trodden material about
the chaotic emotional life of stand-ups: their fears, insecurities, petty
jealousies and self-torment. At one point she screams “I f**king hate myself
for not being a good comedian!”, a declaration she could surely get printed up
on T-shirts and handed out to about two-thirds of the acts on the Fringe (if
they were possessed of enough self-knowledge to wear them).

Having said all of this, it is ironic that the best part of
the show comes when Tiernan merges with her alter-ego and simply performs for
us some of her best gags, which are – surprise! – really pretty damn good.
Touching on familiar topics of female-angst, she nevertheless brings to her
observations a touching vulnerability and the threat (promise?) of losing
control. Clever girl.