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Jimeoin – Lovely!, Grand Opera House, York, May 5
IRISH/AUSTRALIAN stand-up Jimeoin has to keep on the move, dividing his time between over there and over here, where he will perform in York tomorrow.
“I live in Melbourne and come across maybe three or four times a year, a month at a time, seeing family here but leaving my young family in Australia,” he says.
“I’ve been living in Australia for 24 years now. My wife’s Australian but I think I would have stayed anyway. I went there as a backpacker and I just stayed.”
Jimeoin – pronounced Jim Owen – settled initially in Sydney, where he started doing his comedy turn. “It felt like the planets were aligned for me to do it here in Australia rather than in Britain,” he says. “I did a TV show for three years and made a couple of films – and produced them – and the next thing I knew, 24 years had gone by.”
As we have established already, he does nevertheless play British venues too, where you will not find him discussing politics at the Grand Opera House tomorrow night. “I just talk about life and people identify with that,” he says. “I don’t find politics funny – though don’t get me wrong; if there’s a good political joke I’d do it but in general I wouldn’t.”
Jimeoin has chosen to call his show the joyful-sounding Lovely! “On the streets of Belfast, they change the letters UVF to Lovely,” he says. “People really like Lovely! as a title because it doesn’t scream at you. It’s just lovely. You can’t help but smile at that word. Lovely!”
His comedy revolves around observing human behaviour, noting the ridiculous and giving it a surrealist twist. “I talk about going to bed… getting out of bed… the speed of cheese…”
Stop! The speed of cheese? Explain yourself, Jimeoin. “It’s a unit of measurement for people who are slow. It doesn’t matter how big the knife is, it goes through cheese at the same speed,” he says, before moving on, without warning, to the subject of trances.
“You can go into a trance when the kettle boils, which is nice in the morning, but there’s also ‘bad trance’, when I’ve got four kids and I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to put these four kids through school?’.
“Those fears are common, so you can laugh about them. It’s amazing how many people have had those thoughts but not said them.”
He attributes such thoughts to “just the brain talking”. “Sometimes you need the brain to shut up – and that’s the bit you have to work out, realising it’s just chatter, it’s just gibberish,” says Jimeoin, who describes his thought processes as being “really productive or really negative”.
Sometimes he has difficulties with listening (although not during this interview, it must be said). “You know when people say their name and you forget it straight away, or you’re listening to instructions and the voice inside your head says, ‘You never listen, you’re not listening’? You can tell when people aren’t listening…”
How? Look at someone’s eyes and where they focus when you are talking to them, says Jimeoin. “Top left is for names; top right is reminiscing about nice memories; regrets are right in front of you; short-term memory is on the ground; and vague memories are the back of the room.
“At least I pretend I look like I’m listening! I do a listening head… but my wife just does this half-yawn if I’m talking.”
When we interviewed Jimeoin, he was part-way though a 20-night run in Melbourne, to be followed by a short break, a few big shows in Sydney and dates over here in May. He takes advantage of his journeys hither and thither to pen new material.
“I always write on the road,” he says. “That’s when I come up with new stuff because I can write and try it out straight away, whereas you can’t when you’ve got four kids with you at home.
“I just tend to write solo. I like to go to a theatre early and get a lot done backstage, where it’s so depressing, you can’t really get distracted!”
Now you know where to find Jimeoin tomorrow afternoon.
•Jimeoin – Lovely!, Grand Opera House, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm. Box office: 0844 871 3024 or atgtickets.com/york