Fibbing comedian Jimeoin finally tells the truth

St Albans & Harpenden Review: Jimeoin credit James Penlidis Jimeoin credit James Penlidis

He fibbed his way into his first big break and “lied through his teeth“ in his youth, but all of a sudden James Stephen Eoin McKeown, aka Jimeoin, can’t stop telling the truth.

“I’m really enjoying this tour because I’m telling stuff I had forgotten about. Big porkies are coming back in flashes,“ he says when I call to chat about his show Yes, Yes, Whatever…!? coming to Alban Arena next week.

He answers the phone in a sleepy north Irish brogue, says he is still suffering the affects of jetlag after flying over from Australia, where he has lived for the last 26 years.

By coincidence when we chat he is back in his birthplace of Leamington, which he left aged one with his family for Ireland.

“It was cold and windy,“ he says recalling growing up in Portstewart, Ireland “and there was a war going on, that was the most predominant thing happening.

“There’s no politics in my shows. It is conspicuous by its absence. I just find it too full-on doing jokes about politics in a northern Irish accent. I have never really found those sorts of jokes funny.“

The 48-year-old had no childhood dream of being stand-up, having moved to London aged 17 to study building management at Southbank Polytechnic (now a University): “Sometimes when people ask if I went to university I say yes, just for ease of conversation. Once I told someone at an agency I was 26 and had a degree, but really I was 21 and working on a building site.“

Four years were spent working on building sites and living in a flat in Ladbroke Grove, rented with a friend for £12.50 a week.

“I was broke and being northern Irish we certainly weren’t as fashionable as we are now.“ So he escaped to Australia on a working visa aged 22 with “no intention of coming back“. A year later he had his first try at stand-up at an open mic in Sydney.

“I had done a few gigs over a few weeks and a woman told me she needed a support act for a comedian. I told her I had been doing it five years and had 40 minutes of material, but really I had been doing it for a few weeks and had about 11 minutes.

“I took a billing from the Standard that had my mate Bob Franklin on it alongside Paul Merton and Milton Jones and I put my name over Bob’s and photocopied it and sent it to her.

“I’ve never told anyone that before.

“But I got the job and worked every single night for 20 weeks and by the end I had clocked up the same number of hours that usually takes comics years to do.

“It was a crash course in finding your feet.“

So he’s basically a big fat fibber?

“Yes I lied. I lied a lot through my teeth when I was younger.“ What about now?

“No. I don’t tell porkies now.“

Hmmm, so who has the best sense of humour Aussies, Brits or the Irish?

“The English have the best sense of humour of course, especially in St Albans,“ he laughs. “There’s a really healthy comedy scene in the UK.

"I only rate me though. The others are all average. All comics really hate each other. If a comic walked in the room my hair would stand up, well my eyebrows would.“

Seems he just can’t break that fibbing habit.

Alban Arena, Civic Centre, St Albans, Thursday, April 3, 7.30pm. Details: 01727 844488, alban-arena.co.uk

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