With Mrs Chrisparkle having been stranded up north the night before due to Storm Doris, and me soggy with cold, we weren’t in the best frame of mind for going out to see a comedian that neither of us knew anything about. I know that Jimeoin has been going a long time, but our paths simply never crossed. I didn’t even know how to pronounce him – indeed, he doesn’t either, as he confesses early in the show.
However, within a few minutes of his ambling on, mumbling a few hellos, chucking a few quirky glances here and there, I decided that this guy is probably going to be someone I’ll really get on with. He’s like a mischievous uncle, or an office prankster who can’t take anything seriously. He’d probably drive you completely nuts if you had to live with him, but as a colleague or a mate he’d be comedy gold. What’s really extraordinary is how much he can convey with just his facial expressions. As he says, he and his wife have been together for such a long time now there’s nothing much left to say so they just communicate by glances. Thus they have a series of wordless exchanges that include the useful stop talking you’re making yourself look a fool, the dishonest who farted, and the don’t you dare think of sex routine.
Of course, this isn’t a mime act. For two hours, Jimeoin takes patches of his life, seemingly randomly assembled, and presents us with a combination of wry, silly, insightful and just plain hysterical observations about what life is really like. And, for whatever reason, his humour just resonated perfectly with us. It must have been one of those rare occasions when we were the absolutely perfect demographic for the show. Whether he was talking about toilet brushes, or impersonating airline pilots from around the UK, or giving us a selection of brief comedy songs on the guitar, we basically just fell apart. Mrs C was literally weeping with laughter and I can confirm that it takes some comedian to make her do that.
If you’re sitting in the front rows and he engages you in conversation, don’t worry, it will all be charming and friendly, but bear in mind he won’t forget your name and you’ll almost certainly be cross-referenced into some other part of his routine at a later stage. His is one of those acts that feels like he’s making it up as he goes along, but I’m pretty sure there’s a well-defined sequence of routines prepared in advance. His wonderfully laconic but communicative style helps the content flow in a totally organic and unforced way, so that you just feel you’re eavesdropping on this old geezer’s meanderings. I say “old” – he’s six years younger than me, so everything’s relative.
There’s also a definite edge to his comedy – it’s not all soft and fluffy by any means. For example, he asks us to admire his new boots – that’s fine – and then he explains where he got them and it’s so outrageous you wonder if you can allow yourself to laugh at it. But it’s also extremely funny and aligns perfectly with the rather irreverent persona that he presents us. It’s one of a number of occasions where your laugh catches in your throat before you feel confident enough to let it rip. Despite what appears to be a perfectly relaxed delivery, the man’s wit is razor sharp and he’s constantly reacting to what goes on around him to create two hours of superbly well crafted material.
We kept on talking about him as we walked home, as we went to bed, as we got up the next morning, as we had dinner the next evening. Definitely a contender for the funniest comedian we’ve ever seen live. He only had a few UK dates on his tour, and now he’s back to performing in Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney before coming back to the UK for the Edinburgh Fringe in August. If you ever get the chance to see him, take it!