JIMEOIN Hecklers, fights & jealousy

Jimeoin is one of those comedians that everyone knows – in fact, he’s so famous, he only has one name. He’s had his own TV show, his own movie and has been a staple at the Edinburgh Fringe for the last 25 years. Ahead of his new show The Ridiculous, hitting The Astor Theatre for two shows this Friday, May 11, KAREN LOWE spoke to him about hecklers, fights and jealousy.

You have just been at the Melbourne Comedy Festival and have a couple of shows at the Perth Comedy Festival coming up. How have the shows been going so far?

Yeah, they’re a lot of fun. Always a lot of fun. It gets bigger every year. I don’t know how long it’s been going for now but I’ve pretty much been there from the birth of it and it’s really come along like the Edinburgh Festival. That’s a Fringe festival though and Melbourne’s just a comedy festival. They are all seeing growth in the right direction.

As a seasoned comedian, how do ensure that your jokes are as fresh and new as possible? Do you find it easier to write jokes these days?

Oooh that’s a deep question. No idea. I just try and evaluate it on its own face value. If it makes me laugh, then it’s as far as it goes. I try and find things that other people aren’t talking about or try and push it sideways a little bit.

You’re always aware that you’ve got to be relevant. Everyone has to be. You just try to go with the flow really. Actually no – go AGAINST the flow. That’s probably more of what you are trying to do.

You have had quite a varied career in that you’ve been on television, movies, stand-up etc. If you could pick only one for the rest of your life, what would you prefer doing and why?

Stand up without any hesitation whatsoever. It’s such a satisfying thing. You have an idea; you don’t have to run it past somebody. You don’t have to run it past somebody who doesn’t have confidence in your idea; you don’t have to run it past financial people to see if you can get the money to get the idea up… you just do it. You just get up and you say it and if it works, yeah great and if it doesn’t, it’s over.

If it works, you can take it further. It’s just a brilliant art form. It’s way better than… you know, you could mention any other art form and I would just slay them and leave music for dead. Music is just a cliché of I love you, do you love me or the same old shit or politics – if you’re not happy with the world… it’s comedy that shows us so much more and is so much more expressive so stand up for sure.

As a comedian, one of the greatest fears would have to be walking out on stage and no one laughing. Have you ever had moments on stage like that? And if so, how do you deal with it?

Yes I have had those moments. Sometimes I go “it’s your problem”. Often, I’m very arrogant – it’s your problem not mine. I could do an act, I could relay word for word stuff that I’ve done in the past that’s been getting big laughs so if it’s not getting a laugh, it’s their problem, not mine.

It’s also a great mechanism to not dwell on it and that’s really an important thing. Don’t dwell on it. If it happens, it happens. It’s not the end of the world. It’s also not the start of the world – everyone laughing. It’s just another gig. I’ll go “yeah that was a good one” or “that was a bad one” and just move on.

At every, single show, there is always one person in the audience that feels like they need to contribute. What are some of the worst heckles that you have heard? And what are some of the best?

Some of the best ones are in the moment. There was a gig in London, in the East End of London, right out at the end of the Thames and you’ve got to be on your toes as they’re fricken’ good. They’re real good hecklers but they don’t do it much.

They always get a big laugh. I talk about the audience having their teeth out ready for the next joke and I go “look at you! You’ve all got your teeth out waiting for the next joke!” and this guy says “We’re still waiting for the first joke mate!” and the place erupted and I give him a hats off kind of nod and he never said another word!

I did one in Darwin and this guy just kept on and then I’d say something to make him shut up and everyone would laugh. I’d speak again and he’d go on again and then this guy stood up a couple of rows back and leant forward and just gave him a big slap across the head and that was the end of it.

Sometimes we all feel like doing that to that person…

That’s what I do sometimes. I’ll just say “Security! Can you throw this person out? These people didn’t come to listen to this fuckwit!”

On that same line, have you ever had a heckler completely derail the show before?

I had a gig in Esperance once where there was a fight. That kinda derailed the night. They don’t really stand out in my head or memories. I only recall it because you asked me but they don’t really come up in my head that much.

For those few people that haven’t seen a Jimeoin show before…

What? No! (laughs)

I’m talking about the younger generation, what can they expect at your show?

Hopefully a bit of a laugh really! That’s as much as you’re gonna get. But if you get that, it’s always good. You don’t walk away going “oh he’s got an interesting point.” I don’t make any point whatsoever.

The idea is to come along and have a laugh, that’s it. It’s a great feeling when you have a laugh. You never resolve any issues you may have in your personal life but hopefully you forget about it and have a laugh. It’s quite a powerful thing in itself and that’s as much as you need.

As a punter, I have always wondered how the comedian’s family reacts at being on the receiving end of the jokes. Do you clear the jokes with your family first? Or have there been times that you end up sleeping outside with the dog?

You know, it’s never come up. That’s never come up in my whole career. I don’t have a dog to start with. I sometimes tell my wife something and say “by the way, you can’t tell that to the girls” and I’ll be telling her private things and she’ll be like “oh yeah the girls find that very funny!” Fucking hang on! That wasn’t supposed to be public domain!

For new comedians starting out, what advice would you give them? Especially if the show doesn’t go well?

Don’t give advice. That’s my advice. You’ve just got to figure it out yourself. Everyone has a different experience so really, advice is of no benefit. It’s a personal journey so they’ve got to figure it out.

Do you go out and check out your competition? And are there any new comedians that have just blown you away?

I don’t check them out, I get jealous. I get very jealous of people that you just think oh they’re really good, it’s annoying so I’m not gonna blow smoke up anyone’s arse. Last thing I want to do is mention someone and have them thinking they’re better than me (laughs).

I’m afraid there are people out there. Very annoying. There are people starting off but it’s not like I’m reflecting on a career that’s over. I’m trying to get an audience to my show. I’m trying to get as many people to see me as possible so I would like to say that I’m the best comic there is but I’m afraid that may not be the case (laughs).

What’s coming up next in the world of Jimeoin after the Perth Comedy Festival?

I’m going to Edinburgh again. This will be my 25th time going there so they’re obviously not getting the message. I enjoy stand up so I’ll just keep doing it. I’ll be coming back to Perth in November so just keep your eyes peeled.