Jimeoin at Soho Theatre

Note: This review is from 2005

Review by Steve Bennett

Simple observational comedy about all our everyday foibles is an often underrated genre, so easy to dismiss as comedians simply stating the bleeding obvious.

And, true enough, many of its exponents – even the most successful ones - do little more than this, regurgitating the same old clichés they know will strike a chord.

But in the masterful hands of Jimeoin, the recounting the stupid little things we all do becomes something special. Firstly because he sees things others don’t, and secondly because he’s so expert at telling us about them.

His topics are hardly ambitious; in fact, you could barely find anything more mundane to talk about than filling the kettle or taking the rubbish out. Sure enough, these everyday activities elicit plenty of laughs of recognition at the universal idiosyncrasies of our behaviour, but he doesn’t just rely on that.

There’s also the inventive explanations of why we act like that, married with a nuanced delivery rich with subtle physicality as he acts out his domestic scenes with an arch of the eyebrow or a twitch of the mouth.

In one quirky routine he imagines all our memories occupying the 3D space around us, which explains why we look in one direction when we’re trying to remember a name, in another when we try to remember why we went upstairs. Witness, too, the expert way he demonstrates the different facial expressions we adopt for listening and talking.

It might sound a bit twee, slight and affected, but he sells it with oodles of understated charm. His is a singularly unhurried low-key delivery. He is so confident in his abilities that he virtually whispers the sweet nothings that fill his set.

But the soothing lilt might initially dampen the impact of his pin-sharp observations, one you attune to the low energy, you can be quietly lulled into enjoying and appreciating their brilliance, once your defences are down.

In fact, he’s so smooth that women in the front-row actually offer him their handbag to go through, so sure are they he won’t seek to embarrass them unduly.

But then again, maybe these people are simply unembarrassable. After all, like most of his fan base, they are Australian.

For down under is where this Northern Ireland lad made his home, and in return they made him something of a star, with even a lead film role to his name. Yet in the UK, his absence has meant he’s a virtual unknown, despite his enviable talents. The majority of the Soho Theatre audience seem to be antipodean, and those who aren’t were probably dragged along by friends who are.

He plays to them a bit, especially with a routine about how the Brits can’t do ice at parties, but his forte is things we can all laugh at; he doesn’t want to be divisive. And at best these common observations are weaved into mini-adventures about getting served at the bar or being interrupted by a partner mid-anecdote.

By his own admission, the show is meaningless, with no great opinions to impart or sacred cows to be attacked. It’s simply warm, witty and wise. You might add ‘safe’ to that list, but when it’s as skilfully executed as this, that would be a churlish charge to level.

Review date: 1 Jan 2005
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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