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Jimeoin drops in to Durham Gala Theatre for a laugh

Irish comic Jimeoin will be looking to find the funny in Durham tomorrow night as he performs at the Gala Theatre

Comedian Jimeoin
Comedian Jimeoin

Comedian Jimeoin doesn’t like to waffle.

“You don’t want to be saying too many words when you can be saying less,” he says, suitably succinctly.

“Just try and make it as funny as quickly as possible and get in as many jokes as you can.”

When it comes to the his off-stage - or should that be interviewee - persona, the Northern Irishman, who has made Australia his home for the past 25 years, seems to apply the first principle, but not the second.

Our disjointed mobile phone chat has only been going for eight minutes when he bails out in quicksticks fashion.

I don’t mind admitting that the journalist in me, who had agreed a 20-minute interview with the 47-year-old stand up and actor, was a tad hacked off.

But as a mother-of-two young children, I also had more than a changing bagful of sympathy for his situation.

“We’re leaving for Malta tomorrow and I’ve got a one-year-old in the car, waiting to get to Birmingham.”

Presumably he also had his 12-year-old, nine-year-old and six-year-old in there too, as well as his wife, (who is half Maltese) and what can only imagine was a lorryload of luggage to ensure they all had clothes suitable for an autumnal UK as well as more toasty Mediterranean climes.

Fresh from a successful recording of the BBC’s popular Live at the Apollo stand up vehicle, the comic clearly has his family holiday head firmly in place in the sense that he sounds hassled, slightly chaotic and edging ever closer to a check-in queue tantrum. There is, of course, also the chance he just wasn’t up for the interview, but let’s call that Hypothesis B.

Back to the brief exchange in hand though, and I’m wondering whether the 22-year-old man who set off for Australia did so with ambitions to make people laugh.

“Not for a living,” he says. Indeed Jimeoin’s Wikipedia page (I’m pleading necessity) says he got work as a gardener when he arrived following four years as a builder in London.

“I never had any aspirations like that. I never watched comedy and I certainly wasn’t aware that there was a ‘scene’. I was getting up and doing it before I knew it existed. I just did it for a laugh,” he adds without one.

“That’s how I got into it. We’d get into a pub for free because I told a few jokes. It was a hobby and then it became a career.”

It was the early nineties when Jim (he was born James Stephen Eoin McKeown) first came to prominence and racked up the first stage of his TV career with three series of his own show called simply, Jimeoin.

Since then he has appeared on all the major Australian comedy and variety shows, as well as making documentaries about his native Northern Ireland, his adopted southern hemisphere home and the legendary Montreal comedy festival, Just for Laughs, where he has been a regular performer over the years.

UK audiences have been treated to the live Jimeoin experience over the years too, and that’s set to continue with his current tour. Tommorrow night the Gala Theatre in Durham plays host to his well-honed wit and razor sharp perspective on life’s neverending list of absurdities.

“It’s always the hope that by doing the TV things and stuff like that, you get a wider audience who want to come and see your show,” he says.

The audience who were lucky enough to catch a slice of his act during the filming of Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow in 2010 at the Sunderland Empire, will surely fall into this category. I know I do. I’ll always remember his very simple, but brilliantly executed routine which saw him walking around the stage, trying to find it’s ‘funniest bit’. This obviously comes squarely under the ‘having to be there’ heading, but I wanted to share regardless.

Away from the stand up stage, Jim has also written and starred in a duo of feature films: The Craic (1999), and The Extra (2004) - both of which were widely applauded, with the former notching up the title of being the second highest grossing box office movie in Australian-produced film history.

I wonder whether there are any other films in the offing?

“The only thing I’m working on at the moment is getting four kids to Malta tomorrow, and that’s the honest truth.”

And off he went.

:: Jimeoin plays the Gala Theatre Durham tomorrow. Call 0191 332 4041 or visit www.galadurham.co.uk for tickets.

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