“IT was probably the most significant year of my life. I won the BBC new comedy award, won British comedian of the year and my little sister got diagnosed with leukaemia.”

In 2022, Dan Tiernan really broke through. But the highs of winning not one, but two of the UK’s top comedy awards came alongside difficulties in his family life.

But, the Manchester-born comic says, “I don’t think those things were a coincidence”.

“When loads of heavy personal stuff happened in my family I had some big gigs coming up, and I just didn’t care about those gigs in the same way I used to. I realised that it didn’t matter.

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“You build things up in your head and when something like that happens, you realise that it’s all bullsh**. I think in doing that, that made me a much, much, much better comedian. I think it made me more real.

“There’s something about having to have lived to get good at stand-up. I remember a lot of older comics used to say that. I think I finally get what they mean.”

Tiernan’s maturity as a comedian shows in his full-length “debut” show at the 2023 Fringe, Going Under.

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The show sees him tackle subjects from his younger sister Phoebe’s leukaemia diagnosis to his own life growing up with dyspraxia.

As is so often the case with good comedy, Teirnan’s jokes – which we will not spoil here – expertly play on the audience’s subconscious prejudices of someone with his condition just as often as they rely on an unexpected slur at an opportune moment.

The same is true – though in quite the opposite way – of his jokes about being a gay man. Tiernan says he appears so atypically gay that he has even had other comics doubt if he is being honest about his sexuality or just playing it for laughs.

“I literally don’t know why I don’t seem gay,” he told The Sunday National, “but there’s pros and cons to it”.

“I’m very privileged in a way. Because I don’t seem gay, I’ve missed out on a lot of homophobia that more effeminate gay men get constantly in life. But the downside is gay men never think I’m gay, so it’s hard dating-wise. I don’t fit in with my community, I feel isolated if I go to gay clubs, if I even get in.”

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One of the best jokes in the show – which Tiernan says he decided on while browsing stationery – plays on both of these aspects to his character, and the audience’s expectations of what they mean.

But it is hard to pinpoint one joke. Again and again he sweeps the audience along in his high-energy performance, rattling from one quip to the next in a set that rarely pauses for breath.

But it took years to get to this point.

“I feel like every year at the Fringe – this is my fifth one – every year I level up as a comic – and probably a person,” he told the Sunday National.

The result, as Tiernan acknowledges, is a show that feels crafted to the point of truly being finished.

And that brings its own issues, namely maintaining a uniqueness and vitality in a performance that he must repeat again and again and again and again.

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“My whole thing is I want to really be in the room,” he says. “But when you’re doing it at the same time every day in the same room, it is really difficult.

“It’s something I’m trying at the moment, to keep it alive, keep it fresh, keep it fun. Otherwise it’s like you’re going insane. It’s Groundhog Day.”

The challenge will be doubled on Sunday. Tiernan’s show is doing a good enough job of selling tickets (at the time of writing, about half of the remaining run is sold out) that he has been asked to perform it twice: once at 8:30pm and again at his standard time of 10pm.

But if he can pull it off – and the odds are on his side – there could be another award nomination in the offing in the Best Newcomer Category. Comedy website Chortle said it would be “surely inconceivable that he won’t be in the running”. Only time will tell.

Dan Tiernan is performing his debut hour Going Under at the Edinburgh Fringe till August 27 at Monkey Barrel 2 at 10pm, with an extra show on Sunday 13 at 8.30pm at the larger Monkey Barrel 3. You can find tickets here.