THE GALWAY Comedy Festival may be done and dusted for another year but comedy fans are in for another special treat next week as the inimitable Jimeoin comes to the Róisín Dubh on Tuesday November 6 as part of his current tour, Jimeoin - What?!
Arguably Ireland’s most successful export to Australia, Jimeoin is widely acclaimed as one of the hottest stand-up comics of this generation - a true comedy master. A prolific writer with an exceptional audience rapport, he is known and loved for his brilliantly funny wit and charming observations on the absurdities of everyday life.
Internationally, Jimeoin has toured to great acclaim from New York to New Zealand, Aspen to Amsterdam, the Middle East, to the Far East. He has also performed around Europe and is a regular invitee to the Mecca of comedy, Montreal’s Just For Laughs Festival.
Jimeoin’s disarmingly relaxed, cheeky, and sometimes surreal sense of humour has delighted audiences and critics alike wherever he has played; Time Out wrote of him: “It gets no better than this...brilliant consummate comic. He’s not trying to preach to you, he won’t change your life but he will make you laugh a lot...hilarious.”
A land down under
It’s all a far cry from his childhood days in the County Derry town of Portstewart and it has been a journey Jimeoin himself never envisaged when he first emigrated to Australia in 1988. Back then he was working in the construction industry and his introduction to stand-up comedy came about by pure chance.
“One evening I went to a bar and there was a comedy night on,” he recalls. “We were there playing pool and a girl I was with put my name down to be in the try-out section. As a result of that I ended up going on stage. I didn’t have anything prepared, so I just told these three jokes I knew. Then I stayed and watched the rest of the night. I was totally blown away by it. I knew that night that I just had to do it again.”
Once he had started to write and perform his own material, did it take him long to ‘find his groove’ I ask. “About a month,” he replies. “I just started doing things I thought were funny as opposed to the other way around, trying to do what they thought was funny. As well as that when I started finding my voice I could believe the audience found the same things funny as me.”
It was not long before Jimeoin was packing out venues the length and breadth of Australia and garnering invites to prestigious international festivals and venues. He also made successful forays onto both the small and big screen. Beginning in 1994, he had three series of his own show, simply titled Jimeoin, on Australian TV which was a consistent ratings topper.
In 1999, he wrote and starred in his debut feature film The Craic. Its opening weekend made it the second highest grossing box office movie in Australian-produced film history and it went on to have hugely successful international video releases here in Ireland, it was second only to The Matrix. 2005 saw the release of his much-anticipated second comedy movie, The Extra, which he again wrote and starred in. The film charted the travails of an average guy who aspires to be a movie star and is willing to give anything a go to get there.
In recent years he has also done guest slots on a slew of TV shows such as Live at the Apollo, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, Royal Variety Performance and, in the US, Late Night With Conan O’Brien. Despite all his on-camera credits, the comic still retains a strong preference for performing live.
“I enjoy the crowds TV bring to your show,” he admits. “Films are so slow man. I love stand up. Love it! I might do a film called Come and See Me Do Stand-up Live!”
I ask whether Jimeoin is one of those comics with a set writing routine; “I’m just up for a laugh and then I try and remember what it was that I said. Sitting down to write anything just puts me to sleep. It’s more memory than writing. They’re tricky little things to write down, jokes.”
Well travelled man
For someone who spends so much time travelling from one gig and country to the next, how does he manage to fill the spare time in his day while he is on the road?
“I always find something to do,” he tells me. “Sometimes I go to the tourist information in the town and ask them what is there to do. In Australia there are a lot of skateboard parks and I would do a lot of that. But whatever, just to pass the day.”
Jimeoin and his wife, Catherine Arena, have four young children, the youngest of whom was born just this year. Does he find being away from them when he is on tour difficult?
“When I’m away, I’m away and I don’t pine for them,” he declares. “You’ve got to work so there is no way around it so I’m not going to be grumpy when I’m away. Sometimes they come on the road with me. We all did six weeks together earlier in the year. That was great fun but sometimes I’m also glad to get away from them!”
Jimeoin has now racked up more than 20 years of stand-up performing but his zest for the business is just as keen as it was when he started.
“I loved the way my brain worked when I was young,” he says. “I still work hard at stand up and I'm into it and that's what it’s about for me. I’m far from over it. In fact, I’m just getting started.”
Jimeoin plays The Róisín Dubh on Tuesday November 6 at 8.30pm, and tickets are €15 and available at www.roisindubh.net, from the Ticket Desk at OMG, Shop Street (formerly Zhivago ), and The Róisín Dubh.