Review: Jimeoin, Result!, York Barbican, February 16

JIMEOIN likes to crack on with his gigs and gags. No warm-up act at 7.30, instead two sets for ex-pat Irishman Jim, long settled in Australia, where he arrived as a gardener but soon found everything was smelling of roses in the comedy garden. Result!

For a joke, a friend stuck him on a list for an open-mic spot at a comedy night in a Sydney pub. Jimeoin (an amalgam of his first two names; his surname is McKeown) had never seen a comedy show, nor set foot on a stage. He knew a few jokes. He told them. People laughed. Thirty years later, he still tells them, people still laugh. Result!

He gets religion and politics out of the way briskly. “If they can be Jewish, I can be Catholicish,” he says. Trump? “I’m not a fan. He’s an orange man.” One for the Catholics there. Result! Brexit? No-one understands it. Let’s move on. Result!

So, no religion, no politics. That leaves sex, the other forbidden subject at polite dinner tables. And he does talk about sex, well, relationships; 30 years of marriage; the different ways men and women look at themselves in a mirror in public; a man’s fixation with his size down below; how sex is more like tickling after many years of a shared bed.

Each time you laugh in recognition of his observations of the everyday, but may not have noted yourself: the very essence of what separates a comedian from those around him yet makes you feel bonded by the end of the night. Result!

He may look vulnerable, even idiotic, to quote Jimeoin himself, but like Shakespeare’s fools, that doesn’t stop him from being the sharpest fool in the room. He even de-constructs comedy conventions as he goes about employing them, most notably when saying he doesn’t like that thing of talking with the front row as part of a show, but is talking to someone in the front row as he says it. Result!

He can even make rubbish jokes work. Really? Yes, he does an amusing routine about “bin night”, when he likes to be seen to put both bins out, one for general waste, the other for recycling, to have his neighbours nervously twitching over which week it is. Result!

His bemused yet astute schtick, built around an Irish accent founded in Derry, is a winner, while he reveals wonderful skills of physical mimicry too, especially when imitating the movements of crows caught in the act of pecking at a dead badger on a road, pleading innocence and sneaking back, walking sideways. Again, result!

To finish, he reaches for the electric guitar that has been resting at the back all night. He does not sing songs so much as construct yet more daft, concise punchlines, now with strings attached.

Result? A wholly contented audience, who could not have had a happier two hours, free of politics, religion, Brexit; exit stage left Jimeoin. “You’ll be none the wiser,” he had promised beforehand. Maybe not, but you felt smiles better. Result!