Tommy Tiernan becomes first Irish performer to ban phones from his gigs

Fans who need to have their phone for medical reasons, however, are given a special wristband

Tommy Tiernan. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Tommy Tiernan

Tommy Tiernan


Tommy Tiernan has begun banning fans from using the mobile phones at his gigs.

The comedian performed at Vicar St in Dublin over four consecutive days last week and provided the audience with Yondr phone pouches, a patented system which creates phone-free spaces for artists.

Attendees are contacted before the gig and anyone who needs to have their phone for medical reasons is given a special wristband.

As guests enter the phone-free space, their device is placed into a pouch that locks once it is closed. Staff then open the pouches after the event as guests leave.

Speaking on The Tommy, Hector & Laurita Podcast on Thursday, Tiernan said it was a “fantastic” experience as no one was on their phone.

Bob Dylan recently implemented a ban on phones at his gig in Dublin.

Tiernan said he had been thinking about implementing the practice, which he finds “fascinating”, for a “long time”.

He said he finds it very “distracting” when people in the audience are on their phone.

“Yondr is a thing where people go to gigs, and they put their phone in a bag. I’m the first Irish act to do it,” he said.

“I did it last night and it was fantastic. What happens is, say Vicar St there was 1,100 people there, so we have somewhere between 1,100 and 1,300 bags and it’s a patented thing.

“People are notified beforehand to say this is going to be in operation and the reason for it is to give everybody a better experience and you’ll pay more attention to the show when you don’t have access to your phone.

Tommy Tiernan

"We had to contact America because they have it copyrighted, it’s a soft pouch that your phone fits into that closes shut and the only people that can open it are the Yondr staff, it's expensive.

“You go in and there are staff there, so we hired extra staff, we’ve to pay for the bags, it’s not cheap. And you put your phone into this thing and there’s a magnetic thing that shuts and only the staff can open it.

“So, you go into the bar in Vicar St, and you put your phone into this device, it snaps shut, you carry it around with you but you’ve no access to your phone until after the gig.

“So, nobody was on their phone last night at the show and it was incredible, just the focus.”

Tommy Tiernan

Last month, Tiernan became embroiled in controversy after he told a joke about African taxi drivers at one of his gigs. There was no recording or video of the joke but he was criticised for the gag online by RTÉ presenter Emer O’Neill, who had walked out of the show, and subsequently called her to apologise for what he accepted was a racist joke. However, it resulted in taxi company FreeNow pulling its sponsorship of Tiernan’s successful RTÉ chat show.

The Navan man said the method is used by several American comedians and artists to create a better experience for concertgoers.

“There are American comics who do it, Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart, Chris Rock, and I went to see Bob Dylan down in the 3Arena and he did it,” he said.

“You’re just at the show, it’s like f***ing 1990. My opening act the amazing John Colleary was the first Irish comedian to experience it and he said he could ‘feel the attention’. He said people were just looking at him going ‘let’s do the show’.”

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