Fringe benefits

By David Hennessy

After leaving his native Portstewart in Northern Ireland 25 years ago, the comedian Jimeoin has made a name for himself down under with his cheeky and surreal style that often plays on the things in everyday life that everyone is familiar with but no one has observed with such hilarity as Jimeoin.

Well known in Australia, Jimeoin has presented his own television show as well as writing and starring in two films. Now his profile is just as big in this part of the world with the Northern Irish comedian adding five new dates to his current tour due to the incredible demand.

The comedian says to The Irish World of the tour’s success: “It’s a good thing to reflect on because you really go on about it if it’s not going well. I haven’t thought about it until you mentioned it but I’m really enjoying the fact that in mainland England, there’s people turning up. I go to all these towns I’ve never been to before and I get a really good crowd.

“I played for years to nobody (in England). I lived in Australia, I would do Edinburgh- Edinburgh was good. I’d do Ireland, Ireland would go pretty well. I would go to England, nobody would turn up. You go to London, people would turn up because there would be Irish people, Australian people. But now I’m getting lots of English people which is great.”

The comedian was born in Leamington Spa before growing up in Northern Ireland. He told us in a previous interview that the family chose the year The Troubles started to make the move, saying: “My mum always said I started it. It had nothing to do with me.”

He also says: “Because I grew up in Northern Ireland, I’m not wild on nationality to be perfectly honest.”

In Australia for quarter of a century now, down under is where he has a family and calls home now. He was ahead of the trend here with so many young Irish heading there now: “I was part of a different wave. We went during the famine. There was a bit of a recession when I went in 1989/90. That’s what we do, Irish people. We go, we travel. I think it’s something Irish people do regardless. It’s part economy/part in our make up anyway, they don’t need that much of a nudge to go somewhere different.

“For the first year that I was in Australia, every time I met an Australian person, I told them I just arrived that day and they would be so over the top nice: ‘You’ve just arrived!’ If you said you’ve been there five years, it’s lost its glow a bit. For years, I’d tell them I’d just arrived.”

Is it nice to see Irish people doing their thing down under? “In the middle of the day, it is but sometime at night when they’re hammered at a gig- That’s the worst type of Irish person. But in the middle of the day, meeting someone, saying ‘where are you from’: That’s nice.”

Being a husband and father provides some of Jimeoin’s material. Would he try out routines on his wife? “I suppose I do sometimes. My wife would say to me: ‘That’s a good subject matter’. But I wouldn’t say it to her how I’m gonna say it. I’d go: ‘There’s definitely something in that’. If we’re having a big row, she’ll go: ‘You should mention that’.”

His current show Jimeoin – What?!  was the biggest comedy show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012 and has been touring the UK since the beginning of February to sell-out audiences and great acclaim: “The best festival would be Edinburgh for sure. Any time of the day, there’s fantastic stuff going on. You go to the West End in London, it’s awful. It’s got Dirty Dancing the musical: Rubbish, you wouldn’t dream of going to it in a fit. In Edinburgh, you would go and see a brilliant piece of theatre that would really move you. I’ve seen some fantastic dramas, a one man play on Hurricane Higgins.

“I took my dad to a play and he said: ‘what’s this play about?’ I said: ‘It’s about two guys stuck in a toilet for 25 years’. He thought I was joking, then halfway through the play, he’s slapping me: ‘I thought I was joking’. It was the best play.

Jimeoin is currently touring the UK. For more information, go to:


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