Tommy Tiernan relishes reliving hard timesJanuary 6, 2012 - 10:18am
THESE days Tommy Tiernan is one of the country’s most successful stand-up comedians, with a busy touring schedule.
But when Kings Head owner Paul Grealish asked him if he was up for a revival of Religious Knowledge, Tommy said yes.
“I just wanted to take another look at it for nostalgia and also out of curiosity to see if it is still funny for us and the audience. And to see if we can do it!”
Nostalgia certainly is a factor for the Navan born comedian. “Religious Knowledge and all the Flying Pig stuff and Punchbag Theatre (now gone), marked a very definite period in Galway – coming out of the recession of the ’80s and before the boom.”
Tommy, who was on the dole in Galway from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s, recalls there was “a huge community of people living on very little and money was never the motivating factor”.
“For me Religious Knowledge would be very emblematic of that period where you had a vast amount of people living on the same amount, a vibrant community who were interested in doing something with their time and inclination”.
Tommy started ‘signing on’ in 1988, when “the dole was 32 quid a week, I think”, and his memories of that time, when he had no responsibility, are vivid.
“You could get four pints for a fiver in the Crane. I was living in New Road for a good while and we used to live on potatoes and cheap vegetables.”
They didn’t have a television and they spent their evenings playing cards and “trying to rob coal down at the Docks!”
Life these days is vastly different for Tommy, but there was never a grand plan.
“I didn’t go into comedy for money. I could do it and I really enjoyed doing it and I still have the same attitude to money as I had then. It’s not important and if I have it, I’m nearly relieved when I spend it.”
He recalls that he’d get his dole on a Wednesday and “the week was a victory if I had enough for a coffee and cream in the GBC on Sunday”.
When he was performing in Religious Knowledge, the cast would get “10 or 15 quid each on a good day and then you’d have the dole and you’d hope none of the ladies from the dole office came to the show!”
See also ' Funny Kind of Revenge' in this week's Tribunes