‘I was scared’: Jimeoin recalls his very first stand-up gig
For a man for Ireland who came to Australia as a 22-year-old labourer, he hasn’t done too badly.
An established actor, director and stand up comic, Jimeoin is a household name in Australia and has been for close to three decades.
He is currently touring with his hilarious show, Ramble ON! and he shared a chat with journalist, Matt Collins to discuss New Year’s resolutions, ordering coffee and the emotions of his first ever stand-up performance.
Matt Collins: Happy New Year Jimeoin. Have you had a good start to 2020?
Jimeoin: Yes, I’ve got about three kilos I have got to shed all ready.
MC: It doesn’t take long does it.
J: Last year was my year of self improvement, this year I am just going to let myself go.
MC: Are you a coffee man Jimeoin?
J: Yes, I would be very suspicious of people who weren’t. I’ve got a friend who doesn’t drink hot drinks. I’ve stopped talking to him.
MC: Not much of a friend.
J: When we first came to Australia, I’d never had anything other than an instant coffee. I went into a cafe and asked for a coffee. They said, ‘what sort of coffee do you want?’ I said, just a cup of coffee. They said, ‘yeah, but what type?’ This went back and forth for while.
MC: Speaking of coming to Australia, you moved here when you were 22. Why the move?
J: I was working on building sites. I had spent four years in London. I thought if I am going to be outside, I’d like to be somewhere warm.
MC: Did you have any intention of performing comedy when you first moved here?
J: No, I never really thought about being a comedian until the first night I did it really. There was a stand-up comedy night in Sydney and a girl put my name down to get up and tell some jokes. I hadn’t planned anything. I just got up and told three jokes for a laugh and that was really the start of it.
MC: Was there a seed planted that night would you say?
J: Oh yeah definitely, I just thought it was the funniest night. I was scared, it was a new experience. There was a whole new group of people that I was meeting that were all on the same page. It was just one of those things. It was fateful, because I don’t think I would have ever done it if I had stayed in the UK or Ireland when I lived there. It was just that one night here.
MC: Do you think that would have happened? Do you think your comedy career would’ve taken off in the UK?
J: No, I don’t think it would. I’ve noticed other comics where I come from, a lot of them are limited to talking about the troubles in Northern Ireland at the time and their accent. Because once you open your mouth, people in that part of the world know you are from Northern Ireland. So that became the subject matter that they would talk about. But nobody really knew that over here. They just heard an Irish accent and it could’ve been from anywhere in Ireland. I hate talking about politics full stop in comedy, I just don’t think it’s that witty a conversation.
MC: But so many other comics do, especially in the states. I notice a lot of it is politically based. That’s not a road you’ve thought of going down?
J: If there was a good joke I would do it, but that would be the end of it. I wouldn’t feel like my theme is politics. I certainly don’t feel it in conversation. If we were out for a night’s laugh, talking to people, you wouldn’t really be cracking jokes about ScoMo or the Liberal Party. You wouldn’t do it. Why would you do it on stage, if you don’t do it socially?
MC: What’s the worst gig you have ever done?
J: When you first start there are lots of really bad gigs. Whenever you first do stand-up, there is a litany of bad gigs.
MC: Do you think a very good looking person could do comedy?
J: Well I have, haven’t I.
MC: Besides your good self, of course Jimeoin.
J: It helps if you have a little bit of a funny head. Sometimes you will find there is a trendy comic, comics that are really big with the young people. But young fans are very fickle. They will drop you as quick as my daughter dropped One Direction. She loved One Direction, now she despises every one of them.
MC: Which is why it is so impressive you have been a successful comedian for three decades. You’ve done films, television, stand up. Is there a secret to staying relevant and successful for so long?
J: I don’t know if it is a secret, but just lots of hard work. Doing lots and lots of gigs. That’s really the key to it. Also I see how long I can get away with this for. Like during half time in a football game, where you are hiding behind the players so the coach can’t see you and call you out.
MC: Was there ever a time when you almost called it quits on your career?
J: No, I can’t honestly say that I have ever done that. I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s only been the last 12 years that I started going to the UK. I didn’t have much of a following over there then, so I wasn’t going to die wondering.
MC; My favourite song of your is the Third drawer down. Only because, and all of Australia can relate to this, we all have a crap drawer three drawers down.
J: Some people have a third room like that. Just a room with all spare boxes and rubbish. We had loads of third drawers in my house. It got to the point where there was nothing but third drawers.
Jimeoin is currently performing his show, Ramble ON! across NSW and Queensland.
For a full list of venues and to buy tickets go to the website.