The language of comedy

Dave Woodhall talks to Jimeoin, a comedian for all nations.


Born in Leamington Spa, growing up in Northern Ireland and eventually finding a home as Australia, where he’s known for his film and TV work – and that’s without the world tours and North American TV appearances. Comedian Jimeoin has a wealth of experiences to reflect on and whatever you say to him, he’s certain to have heard it before. Or maybe not.

You must have been asked many times how to pronounce your name.

“No, never before. It’s ‘jimowen’ although I’m not too sure if I’m saying it right.”

You were born in Leamington so we can claim you as one of our own. Then you moved to Ireland and finally to Australia via London. Now you tour the world and you’re a regular on TV in the USA and Canada. That’s quite some achievement.

“Yes, that’s true. But now I do spend a lot of time on my own missing the family.”

Although nothing, surely , could prepare you for Edinburgh during the Festival, where you performed your new show Is it?

“That’s true. It’s saturated, there’s more than three thousand shows in thirty days. You can’t ever understand it until you’ve been here but it’s great for me to come up here, it helps me write new material. The audiences are great as well”

Then you’re playing two local shows on your upcoming tour – Warwick Arts Centre and Birmingham Town Hall.

“I’ve done the Town Hall a few times. It’s a wonderful venue.”

So sell me a ticket for it then.

“Er, er, yes That’s a hard one. It’s all laughs. Come along and laugh. It’s not based on anything, it’s just having a laugh. If it was based on something it’d be a lecture. It’s about being let loose and you’ll be none the wiser after it. Hopefully you’ll have forgotten something. You laugh, you move on. Don’t think too hard, don’t resolve anything, just get some laughter and forget about everything else.

“Comedy’s quite a craft but I don’t think it’s as structured as some people think. There’s no message, just get out there and make people laugh. You can’t really analyse why something is funny, it just is or it isn’t”

You come from playing Edinburgh, with its massive arts tradition, and you’ll be in Birmingham, which has lost so many bids to become a capital of somewhere’s culture that maybe we should have taken the hint by now.

“I think Birmingham’s fantastic. We’d come over in the seventies and the Bull Ring and those sort of places were desperate, really faceless, but everything’s changed.”

Do you still think of yourself as an Irish comedian, or has that altered with the work you do, particularly in Australia?

“I don’t mention the Australian thing, I don’t say anything about it in my act. I open my mouth and you can tell where I’m from. But of course the Irish, we’ve moved to Australia, to America and to Britain so there’s a strong connection with migrants there. There are people of Irish descent in Australia who know me through people I know in Birmingham. It’s a working culture, it’s still there and it evolves. For a small island there’s a lot of us.”

Jimeoin’s show Is it? plays Birmingham Town Hall on 18th October and Warwick Arts centre on 24th October. For ticket details visit