A Friendly Chat with Eleanor Tiernan

Eleanor Tiernan, comedian, has graced the small screen on RTÉ’s Irish Pictorial Weekly and The Panel. Fellow comedian Conor O’Toole constructed some friendly questions and Eleanor has provided the friendly answers below. She will be headlining the Workman’s Comedy Club this Sunday.


You’ve moved from Dublin to London recently, are they treating you okay over there?

Well Conor, as we have discussed in the past, ever since I learned about the beautiful Helen of Troy in national school I have always dreamed of being the cause of a war between two countries. To my 10 year old mind, there was no greater accolade a woman could achieve in life than being the reason for thousands to die and so I would love nothing more now than to report hostile and degrading treatment at the hands of the English. That way Ireland’s army might be inspired to come to my rescue sparking off a new war between the two countries.

However it is with a heavy heart that I must report that such a legacy is not on the cards for ol’ El. The English have been completely and utterly fair in their dealings with me and remain disappointingly reasonable in the face of some seriously deviant behaviour on my part. Only last week I was late returning my library books and the librarian did not so much as flinch. She did nothing more than apply the considerably low fine of 20p and when I didn’t have change on me said I could pay it at a later date. I guess I’ll have to find some other way to become a divisive historical figure.



Your most recent show at the Edinburgh Fringe, People Pleaser, dealt with your experience as an immigrant in the UK after the EU referendum, do you feel more secure over there since it went so well?

Well not really no. The sentiments expressed in my show about the uncertainty EU nationals feel living in a post-article 50 UK may well have been taken on board by the Conservative party but i haven’t had any contact from them and there’s no sign of a change in their Brexit negotiation strategy. In fact I fear it’s possible that they haven’t listened to me at all. It seems getting the attention and ear of those at the top isn’t as easy as doing an Edinburgh fringe show in a room that holds no more than 50 people.

When was the last notable time you went well out of your way to do a favour for someone?

I played a festival in Ireland over the summer and when you are booked to do that the organisers give you a spare ticket for the festival so you can bring a friend along. I gave my ticket away to a parking attendant to get a friend out of a ticket.

Anything you’ll be doing when you’re back in Ireland that you can’t do over yonder?

If I end up having sex while in Ireland I’ll certainly be using contraception because of you know what! After that I’m sure I’ll have an Iceberger and/or a Mint Crisp.

A couple years ago you did a show called the National Therapy Project, can you explain what that was?

Yes I made a serious attempt to provide therapy for Irish citizens to help them deal with the pain of being Irish. Carrying the emotional memory of all of the trauma that our ancestors experienced first hand is an exhausting burden that Irish people bear and causes us to behave in all sorts of dysfunctional ways that only end up hurting ourselves more in the end.

Do you think Irish people seem less ashamed since then? I know I am.

I’m glad to hear you’re making progress but no in general I don’t think they are less ashamed. The project was a complete failure. However I’m starting to think that might in fact be a good thing though. The more I think about therapy the more I see the pitfalls of it. I fear it is being co-opted by corporate power as a way of blaming ordinary citizens for their problems. It has this narrative of “you may not be able to control the world but you can control how you feel about the world” which amounts to saying, “If you don’t like being poor it’s because you haven’t seen the opportunities poverty presents yet”. No! No amount of positive thinking will make groceries magically appear in my cupboard. You couldn’t be up to those old corporate types at all at all.

Any thoughts about what you’d like to do next? / What are you up to next?

I’m going on tour with my show People Pleaser around Ireland which will be fun as it’s a show that’s specifically written with UK audience in mind. I expect I’ll rewrite some parts of it. Or maybe not. Maybe the honest thing to do would be to leave it as it is and let the Irish see what I’ve been saying about them in England and take any heat that might come from that (if there is any).

Main image via Twitter

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