Funny man Jimeoin to hit Bundy stage
I FIRST met Jimeoin way back in 1990, and it was one night of my life that haunts me to this very day.
Every Wednesday night for many years, amateur comics from all over Sydney would head to the Comedy Store, the number one venue for stand-up in the nation.
Along with my new friends Peter Berner, Adam Hills and Akmal, I would often go along and try out new jokes in the hope of becoming a stand-up comic, and I loved to make people laugh.
One night, a young Irishman turned up, unannounced.
He said his name was Jim and could he have a spot?
He seemed like a nice bloke, and who doesn't love the Irish, so I let him go before me.
It turned out to be the biggest mistake of my short but fun stand-up career.
Going on stage after Irish Jim was soul-destroying. I could have been Robin Williams and it wouldn't have mattered.
The lad from the Emerald Isle of Ireland was amazing.
I didn't pick up a microphone for the next 20 years.
It's not that I stunk.
It was simply the realisation that I couldn't compete with the likes of James, who went on to become known as Jimeoin.
"I'm really sorry that happened. That's terrible,” Jimeoin said when I reminded him of those early days.
"Mind you, it's a good story, though.”
James Eoin Stephen Paul McKeown grew up in Portstewart in Northern Ireland and moved to London, where he worked in the building industry.
At night, Jimeoin (as he became known ... not hard to see how he got the name) would go out with his friends and loved to tell stories, jokes and yarns.
It was the basis of what was to become a long career in comedy, as the 52-year-old said.
"The thing that got me started was that I was out with friends.
"I'm in a movie soon called That's Not My Dog which is all about telling jokes, and I was always good at that.
"When I moved to Australia, I went along one night to the Harold Park Hotel (a famous venue for up-and-coming comics in Sydney) and I just got up there and told some jokes.
"I think Akmal was the first act I ever saw, and Ross Daniels was the headline.
"That was my first time ever seeing stand-up.
"I thought 'This is a great night out. It's halfway between a band and a play'.
"I thought 'I could do this', so I put my name down for a spot.
"I had an office job when I did quotes and had my own thoughts and in my downtime, I'd sit and write little routines. That's how it all started.”
Playing regional areas around Australia with his The Ridiculous tour, Jimeoin says the audiences are really enthusiastic, which is fantastic.
"You always want to see a crowd like that,” the popular comedian says.
"I always like to see the person who doesn't want to be there: someone who is dragged along by his girlfriend or something.
"I tend to go for them.
"I get the 'look of death' and they say 'I don't want to be here. My wife made me come'.
"You can't please everyone - that's the way it is.”
Jimeoin plays at The Moncrieff Entertainment Centre on Thursday, June 7 from 8pm.