Jim Elliott

Jim Elliott

Jim Elliott began performing in 2005 in his hometown of Washington DC. In 2008 he relocated to Dublin, where he is a regular comedy club fixture.
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Irish Comedian Of The Year 2016 final

Note: This review is from 2016

Gig review by Julia Chamberlain at Galway Town Hall Theatre

This was the inaugural Irish Comedian of the Year show, joining the English  Comedian of the Year and the Scottish Comedian of the Year competitions. Bagsy review the  ‘Bar They All Walk Into…’ of the Year.

Nobody has to be brand new to enter this, and some definitely aren’t, whereas other don’t have that many comedy miles on the clock.  

Compere Andrew Stanley energised the audience with his friendly ribbing of the crowd and made the evening bowl along well. His comedy was great, but his sense of occasion wasn’t, and it would have been nice to see not just jeans and a sweatshirt – this was a big gig for some people, not just a new material night.  However it wasn’t Galway Fashion Week, and he did the job well.

First up was Donal Vaughan who deliberately dresses like he’s at school in the 1950s, a dull greige zip-up cardigan, ill-fitting trousers, all part of his deliberately  downbeat, born loser persona.  He’s a pudgy Wee Man telling self-deprecating sex jokes – very well-written sex jokes in the main which have previously won him the Laughing Horse competition in the UK.  He’s used that schtick for a little while now, and it would be good to see him develop as he can plainly write a gag, but this wasn’t the winning formula tonight.

Stephen Ryan had a sonorous, actorly delivery and a dapper set of tweeds (I am not going to mention everyone’s clothes, but he had at least a sense of performance and presentation).   Very popular with the crowd, he was quite teasing, had a superb arachnophobia joke and played out front well.  One to watch. 

He was followed by Richard Ronaldson who was the genuine newbie tonight.  A grey man of grey demeanour (I’d written ‘estate agent’ before he even spoke) who exploited his dull accountant aspect with a bunch of dad jokes, some of which were great, many of which weren’t. If delivered with the vim of Tim Vine the silly awfulness would hype an audience up, and I believe he’d smashed his semi-final, but was received with less hysteria here.  He trod a fine line between deliberately shambolic and just shambolic. Comedians adored him, as they always do someone who is not presenting a challenge to their income, but ten minutes of pretty cringy low-energy punning wasn’t going to carry the prize tonight. High-energy, cringy punning would be totally different  proposition. 

Aideen McQueen tottered on like Bambi after a beer, enthusing about Galway, flirting with the audience and then remembering to start her set. What made her think discussing vagina terminology was going to be a winning routine, pretending to be coy about ‘the C word’, which someone promptly shouted back from the audience, I don’t know.  She had a certain vulnerable, pretend-pissed charm, but she seemed all over the place, waving about her laminated photocopies of fanciable dictators. It’s a joke that’s been done more crisply and she really needed to be more disciplined in the performance if she’s going to play scatty. Not a strong set: not enough jokes and too much brutal vulgarity.

Local boy Steve Bennett walked out to a roar of encouragement from the home crowd, carrying a bloody ukulele.  Looking like any other hipster, big beard, big hair he had a lot of variety in his set, poetry, daft jokes and ended on a a children’s song, as he said, aiming to get a kids’ TV hosting role,  that was along the lines of ‘we’re all going to die we’re all going to die’.  

He was without doubt engaging – even if I hate ukes and poems – had buckets of confidence and inventiveness, and was a popular winner of the cash and a trip to the Adelaide Fringe to do a solo 45-minute show, which I suspect will be quite a test. This was OK over ten minutes, but a half hour more daftness could wear the patience. However he’s got an Edinburgh show under his belt, so maybe it’ll work. This audience loved every minute. 

The darkest comedian of the night was Ryan Cullen, stringy, unsmiling, obsessed with death, incest and bleak childhood fairytales. He was the only one to have a decent pop at crowd interaction, skilfully shutting it down when someone was quite up to maintaining their end of the trade.  

He has a lot of promise and if he lightened up (personally, I think the material speaks for itself), he could permit himself to day horrible things with a smile. A second place by a narrow squeak, it was close between him and Bennett. I preferred his tightly controlled material, but the delivery was so severe it again felt as if 20 minutes or more of this would be hard work. 

Emman Idama was charming and energetic, lifting the room with his personal stories about coming from Nigeria and living in Ireland with his religiously observant family.  He had some mild stuff about Muslims and Christians, but it was the first time anyone tonight had looked outside their own lives to the bigger picture His material wasn’t earth shattering, but he had panache and charm to spare, that made him very watchable. I remember him from 2013, and he hadn't  pushed on that much in terms of writing, which is where he should be more ambitious, as made performance look easy.   

Andrais de Staic has been knocking about for a good few years now and is both a compelling presence and a cracking musician with a violin.  His set was staccato and bitty but he did make you wonder what he’d do next. It felt that he was flying by the seat of his pants, a bit like Phil Kay, but at least he kept his on. And Like Phil Kay, you know there will be great days and markedly less great days, terrifying for anyone who books him for a gig. This was intriguing, but not overwhelmingly hilarious.  

American Jim Elliott has also been doing the comedy for a while; he had the most polish and seemed most like a comedian. With smart, assured delivery, he spoke about the upcoming American election while it still has currency. His bit on Irish slang rather fell away, but he is the most readily bookable in a club setting and collected himself a third place.   

Peter Flanagan had the unenviable job of being the last on and did some mock contentious – but ultimately not-that-memorable – material about his racist dad and coming out despite not being gay.  

Over the whole night there was a lot of stuff about paedophiles and multiple references to Jimmy Savile which surely must be wearing thin as a trope now?  The gag of saying that not being abused as a child is a measure of not being attractive could surely do with being faded out of people’s sets.  

However the show was energetic, fun and the standard was generally high, as you would hope for any event that sets itself up as an ‘… of the year’ showcase.

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Published: 2 Nov 2016



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