What is he going on about? That's a question I frequently asked my date while I was watching Jimeoin, an Irish comedian who claims to have "not just jokes but attitude as well".
Towards the end of the show, I remembered the show's name is "What?!", and suddenly it all made sense.
Jimeoin's set was a jumble of mimes, pelvic thrusts, dances, thick Irish-accented mumbles, music and of course jokes.
"I think it's important as a comedian to have jokes," he joked.
He regularly cracked himself up as he made quips about "hanky panky", fashion, housework and drunken misdemeanours.
Jimeoin actually seemed a bit mad at times and I wondered if his regular cigarette smoking mimes meant he was craving a nicotine fix.
Toilet humour was a favourite topic, and had many audience members laughing involuntarily loudly. If the audience laughed particularly hard at a joke, Jimeoin would sometimes do it again just to get more laughs.
Despite saying at the beginning that no one would learn anything from his show, Jimeoin ended up giving out possibly valuable life tips on random things such as creeping techniques.
Jimeoin's laidback and cheeky manner meant it was sometimes impossible to tell which jokes were prepared and which were improvised.
But the audience's favourite part of the show was Jimeoin's songs, if you can call them that. One audience member even shouted out a request for 'Fourth Drawer Down'.
As I'm sure he intended, my date and I left the theatre saying "what?!"
Jimeoin is performing as part of the 2013 New Zealand International Comedy Festival.
When it comes to Jimeoin, what he says matters far less than what he does. The Aussie/Irish comic is a fairly regular face at our comedy festival, and a top draw act – filling Sky City Theatre. Jimeoin has long perfected a dry, laid back style of observational comedy that sifts through the ridiculous in the milieu of day-to-day existence. But his biggest strength is the physical acting-out of his impressions, and an expressive face he can shape like putty.
Jimeoin and his audience are quickly at ease with one another, Jimeoin dancing along to his lead-in music, and quickly asks us if we are “ready for some jokes?”. Oh yes we are. Jimeoin has an extremely good sense of his audience, presenting his material with an inclusive wink-and-nod to us, sometimes telling us what he is doing – including letting us know he was going to go off and back on again for his curtain call. He’s also very good at judging how long he can milk laughs for; drawing his gags out long enough without getting stale. In one improvisatory moment, he was able to continue the waves of laughter by simply reacting to the audience’s laughter, thereby generating new ripples. Latecomers lead to great relatable material on how to best get past other audience members to your seat, Jimeoin miming for our education his preferred option.
Jimeoin’s content, focusing on the ordinary, is itself rather unordinary on its own. There’s a whole section of supermarket jokes, an examination of icecubes, and an analysis of different reactions people have to different smells. But again, his style sells it.
As I try to say the last goodbye to the colleague who joined me for What?!, making light of one of Jimeon’s extended commentaries on the problems of saying goodbye to people, I realised that this was the exact same thing I did after the last time I went to see Jimeoin. He is something of a comfort comedian – familiar, charming, and a guarantee of laughs rather than fresh insight.
Jimeoin is a popular visitor to our comedy shores, which means that you may think he is comfortable and mainstream.
In fact he is constantly surprising. He does fun, silly and original comedy as well as the surreal and edgy.
Before the show my friend told me ‘he gives good facials’ and she wasn’t wrong. He Jokes about his mime skills but in fact his subtlety, movement and expressions form a core part of his act that enable him to perform at such a controlled and expert comedic pace.
A stand out piece on its own was just his expressions explaining how people react to bad toilet smells. The everyday situations which he turned into comedy masterpieces included shopping, creeping into your own house and saying goodbye after a dinner party.
He plays with voices, accents and body language all of which are hilarious routines. With a guitar at the side of the stage there is an anticipation of the songs and when they do come you won’t be disappointed. You may identify with some of the wonderful relationship situations.
With a gentle melodic tone he carries his audience along his What?! comedy journey.
An immensely talented and lovable comedian who actually tells jokes!
Having swanned between comedy stages for over two decades, pulling faces and rattling off puns with that distinctive Irish twang, Jimeoin is the sort of comedian relegated to a distant memory: an old TV show, a radio spot, a movie, a poster with his beaming face on it.
But longevity in the laugh making trade means keeping material fresh and new – or at least convincingly pretending to do so. The jolly 47-year-old entered the “funny uncle” phase of his life some time ago, and while his shtick has naturally evolved to encompass more adult material – parenthood, marriage, (ir)responsible driving, etcetera – there is a rascal boyish charm to his performances that stays fresh as the years roll by.
In the opening minutes of WHAT?!, Jimeoin (without a trace of self-awareness) expresses his opinion that comedians these days are too focused on expressing their opinions. It’s a fitting precursor to a show completely uninterested in pushing boundaries or soapbox rants, but keeps “on message” by rolling out tried-and-tested stand-up spotted with moments of slapstick and musical comedy.
Gags about farting and blaming it on his baby, engaging in weird road games with other drivers and a hypothesis about how looking away from dog poo and looking away from ATM machines usually involve the same expression might not sound like much chop, but in Jimeoin’s hands the laugh quota remains high and the payoffs plentiful. The show may seem a mite old hat for those who fancy something a little more adventurous, but Jimeoin is right: it’s all about the jokes.
``TRICKY, the start of a show,'' Jimeoin admits.
``You need some jokes. Bit of attitude as well.''
Thing is, Jimeoin doesn't really do jokes. Not with big punchlines anyway.
And attitude? No. Not really his thing either.
If Jimeoin What?! possesses any attitude at all, it’s one of bemused apathy: ``My point is … I don't have one.''
That doesn't mean this is a laugh-free zone. Far from it.
Jimeoin is a past master at extracting humour from the humdrum and on the opening night of his new show, he had great fun riffing on bin liners, barmen and bulbs.
Eyes twinkling, the impish Irishman then spun comic gold out of newspapers, queues and ejector seats (he has a thing about cars).
Best of all was Jimeoin's description of a dad scanning for his kids at the beach while frantically licking their melting ice creams.
I could have sworn there was real vanilla ice cream dripping down his chin.
Jimeoin casts his lines like a fly fisherman, probing for laughs then nonchalantly reeling them in. No sudden movements, of course.
But when he does cut loose, to retrace a bathroom manoeuvre or mimic a midnight creeper, Jimeoin can look surprisingly nimble.
Tricky, finishing a show. So Jimeoin straps on an electric guitar and pumps out some garage rock.
It’s more garage than rock, actually, and there’s no attitude.