Dan Tiernan @ Monkey Barrel

BBC New Comedy Award Winner Dan Tiernan is a tour-de-force in his unstoppable, near-the-knuckle Edinburgh Fringe debut

Review by Polly Glynn | 07 Aug 2023
  • Dan Tiernan

Dan Tiernan will soon be everywhere – lunging at his front row, hurtling down the aisles, and inevitably all over your screens in no time at all. In some ways, Tiernan’s Going Under is exactly what you’d expect from a debut Fringe hour. He talks about his childhood, his appearance, and his family, but with the demeanour of a Tasmanian devil. Self-deprecating descriptions hit differently as he snarls them at himself, following his jibes with a slow, smug grin – both verging on self-cruelty. 

His set is impeccably tight, barely pausing between nailing one gag and the next. He welcomes you into a grotty world of puerile dick jokes and revels as audience members gasp when using language some may find upsetting with regards to disabled people (Tiernan is disabled himself). He subverts expectations yet again when speaking of his sexuality. He slides into offshoots of the surreal too, without it ever feeling out of place (beans and snails are conjured up from thin air). If anything, his mania sells it much better than many a languid Noel Fielding-a-like. 

There’s a vulnerability to the hour which is well-hidden. Tiernan speaks of feeling like a failure and trying to cope with his younger sister’s serious illness (and encourages his audience to sign up to the stem cell register in his show’s conclusion). His sincerity is surprising given everything that precedes it. Yet all of the hour is underlined by Tiernan’s dizzying stage presence; the magnetic danger he creates. It’s rare to see such self-assured, unhinged behaviour on stage, alongside such dense comic craft. See Dan Tiernan for the quality of his jokes; stay for the fear factor.

Dan Tiernan: Going UnderMonkey Barrel (MB2), until 27 Aug (not 15), 10pm, £9