Arts: Aussie eyes are smiling

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TWO DREAD words hang over Aussie comedy: "Paul" and "Hogan". So I am relieved to report that Jimeoin, an Irish-born stand-up who is huge in Australia, couldn't be further removed from the Fosters-swilling larrikin. The big difference being that Jimeoin makes people laugh.

On a comedy circuit populated with more surrealists than Twenties Paris, Jimeoin is very much a throwback to the "have you ever noticed?" school of humour. The horror of treading in dogs' mess and the incomprehensibility of video-instruction manuals have a "been there, heard that" feel about it. And how often have we witnessed routines about trying not to make a noise when you take a late-night leak?

Where Jimeoin scores highly, though, is in unexpectedly transporting familiar subject matter on to the wilder shores of unpredictability. For instance, an apparently unsurprising section about changing light-bulbs metamorphoses without warning into something more imaginative when the comedian begins to speculate about why bulbs alert you when they are just about to run out. "It's so they can have their last dying words - `Tell the other bulbs I loved them.'"

Appealingly, he is also drawn to the manifestly irrelevant. The show kicks off with Jimeoin admitting: "I don't have a start, other than: you always buy far too many mushrooms." A propos of nothing, he reveals that his microphone-stand is related to the Bunsen burner: "A lot of you are just surprised that you have heard that word again, aren't you? Nobody mentions it - it just doesn't come up in the real world, does it?"

It's all deliberately frivolous stuff. In the closest he comes to a political routine, Jimeoin marvels at the unfortunate politician who stood up on the first day of the new Northern Irish Assembly, and said: "I'd like to congratulate Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games. We've just won a gold medal in the shooting."

He ends with a clever spoof on the vanity of rock stars, crooning with over-the-top emotion: "Don't drive a tractor when you're drinking Lemsip - it tells you that on the box."

I know it's only a stand-up show, but I like it.

James Rampton

Jimeoin plays the Arts Theatre, Belfast (01232 316900) tonight and Saturday