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Jimmy McGhie: The All-Powerful Warrior Who With His Endurance And Inflexible Will To Win Goes From Conquest To Conquest Leaving Fire In His Wake

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Jay Richardson

Ostensibly one of those "poor me" shows in which a good-looking, property-owning young comedian bitterly bemoans the crushing burden of their lot in life, Jimmy McGhie actually scorches a bit of a blaze here, eclipsing the promise of his 2009 debut.

Once a fat kid christened Jimmy Pies by his maths teacher, his greatest claim to infamy being sexually assaulted by a neighbour’s dog, the insecure McGhie recently turned 30 and lives in London with his sister. Whiling his afternoons away in boredom, the troubled comic finds an unlikely mentor in the shape of former dictator of Zaire, Joseph ‘The Leopard’ Mobutu. Becoming obsessed with the crazed despot, he finds his inner monologue and super-ego dictated by a man who switched his middle name to the unwieldy title McGhie adopts for his hour.

Disparaging of Australians and South Africans in particular, in the wake of dispiriting property viewing with a number of their estate agent countrymen, this initially feels like a mildly xenophobic club set rant from McGhie. He’s very funny on cricketer Shane Warne’s infidelity for example, but it’s not until he introduces Mobutu into proceedings that his story begins to cohere into something more satisfying.

McGhie broadly skewers London’s metropolitan middle-classes as smug, Observer reading, Spotify users who will damn him for listening to Simply Red, his limited web trawling habits and predilection for niche porn causing him acute psychological discomfort. There’s a richly amusing sequence of routines in which the computer games ingénue is massacred by cocksure younger foes and has to advise his clueless mother on mobile phone tariffs, taking refuge in crude marijuana and awakening Mobutu’s chastising spirit.

Amid this backdrop of listless malaise, his agent dispatches him to a casting for a youth TV role, where his pent-up stress explodes upon the assistant producer. Seeking to get away from it all and discover himself, he contemplates travelling to Zaire, assesses the danger, and compromises by heading for Kenya instead.

Less than transformed by the experience, he rails against the insensitive trustafarians working for animal charities while remaining all but oblivious to the Kenyans’ poverty. While they appear to be yet another of his plummy-voiced, chattering class caricatures, the narrative takes a further turn for the compelling when he accidentally falls in love.

Suffice to say Mobutu is there for him whatever transpires and he returns to London determined to right a wrong perpetrated against him, building up to a hilarious conclusion. From a series of seemingly unrelated anecdotes, observations and outright prejudices, McGhie has pulled together a show with real soul and panache.

Review date: 29 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson

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