Interview: Jimeoin


Comedian Jimeoin is full of surprises. I had always assumed that this brilliant observational comedian who is a superstar in his adopted homeland of Australia, was actually from Northern Ireland. It turns out, however, that he was actually born in England, in Leamington Spa.

“My parents were from Ireland, but they were living in England when I was born,” he explains. The family moved to Portstewart in Northern Ireland when he was one year old, hence the strong Irish accent, which has not been worn away despite living down under for the last 25 years .

The amiable 49-year-old is now making waves in the UK thanks to his memorable stand-up appearances on TV shows such as Live at the Apollo, The Royal Variety Performance and Sunday Night at the Palladium. His relaxed, acute humour about the smallest details of human behaviour has struck a big chord with everyone who sees him.

Fans have been particularly entertained by his routine about eyebrows. He points out that whenever we look in our pockets we have our “little bits of fur” down but whenever we ask directions, for instance, we have them up: “Most of the things I will be talking about tonight will involve having my eyebrows up,” he giggles onstage.

He says he could probably do a whole performance about eyebrows, but he has other things to chat about too. His riff about washing machines, giving them human characteristics, is also a showstopper. When it goes quiet just before another spin cycle he wonders if it is pausing to have a crafty cigarette. And as for removing your clean things, you take your life in your hands if you turn the dial: “You get the wrong setting, your clothes could be locked away for days.”

While his jokes go down a treat, his name confuses people. Jimeoin’s mother apparently could not decide on what to call him and so combined his two grandfathers' names - James (Jim) and John which is Eoin in Galicso and invented a whole new name. Babies in Australia are now called Jimeoin. When he started to perform, on whim in a Sydney comedy club in 1990, he decided to drop the surname of McKeown because it was a bit of a mouthful. He was clearly doing something right as his career took off quickly, with TV shows and sell-out tours following. 

His easy-going everyman style probably comes from the fact that he is well-travelled and had proper jobs before getting into stand-up. After Portstewart he lived in south London for a while and was a gardener, a carpenter and a builder. There was no showbiz gene in his family. “My father was a plasterer and my mother was a teacher,” he recalls. He was always making his friends laugh at school though. “I thought I was funny, but I never thought I could turn it into a job. Even now it surprises me that i’m doing it as a job.”

The move to Australia changed his life in more ways than just getting a sun tan and a career. He married Catherine and now has four children, three girls and a boy, between two and 13 at home in Melbourne. Gigs to packed theatres must be a easy after dealing with a full house of children. He says that when he is touring “it is just a joy to be away”. He misses them really, of course.

Interview continues here.


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