Arts: Much ado about nothing
COMEDY: JIMEOIN; EALING COMEDY FESTIVAL, LONDON
Thursday 29 July 1999
Dave Holder, the aforementioned novelty act, set the tone of complete daftness at the Ealing Comedy Festival in Walpole Park on Tuesday. It was continued - in spades - by the main attraction, Jimeoin.
The Northern Irish-born stand-up is big in Australia - he got one of his biggest cheers when he asked if anyone was from Down Under - but don't let that put you off. His style is hard to render on paper, because it's all in the rambling. The meandering between gags appeals more than the gags themselves. After 20 minutes of amiable digressions, he promised: "I'll start now. I'll tell a joke soon."
He is one of those rare comedians - Eddie Izzard is another - who is funnier when he wanders off a comedy track and tries in vain to return to it. He interrupted himself during one routine to reflect: "This doesn't go anywhere. I've got to think of jokes." But with Jimeoin that's not actually the case; the fewer punchlines, the better.
His best lines are Izzard-esque musings apropos of nothing. At one point he wondered why we so rarely hear the words "Bunsen burner" as adults: "You're not allowed to talk about them when you leave school. The headmaster says to you, `Good luck in the real world, and let's not mention Bunsen burners'."
Also out of the blue, he performed an impression of the noise made by Chewbacca in Star Wars - by dragging a chair across the stage. "It very nearly got the part. It was down to two - a chair and a big hairy guy."
Jimeoin's roving approach does lead to longeurs, and he struggled in last night's outdoor arena against the twin problem of low-flying planes and weak-bladdered people. In addition, some of his subjects - the difficulties of peeing in the dark, for instance - had a rather too familiar ring to them.
For all that, Jimeoin's act is proof positive that in comedy you don't need gimmicks such as unicycles or strait-jackets to win over an audience: a charming persona will suffice.
A version of this review appeared in later editions of yesterday's paper
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