Jimmy James Eaton is a comedian and improviser, most famous for artistic directing the Melbourne arm of the Big HOO-HA and founding Impro Sketch. You’ve probably spotted Jimmy on television too, as he’s appeared on It’s a Date (ABC) and Slide Show (Channel 7). His specialities include characters, sound effects and ballet (well, not so much).
Your show, Jimmy Vs. Jimmy, is multifaceted; there’s a bit of sketch, stand up and improvisation. How do you find combining those styles? Do you have a preferred performance type?
Wow it’s like you’re asking me to pick my favourite child? How dare yo… Okay fine but don’t tell the kids. I’m right back into my stand up comedy at the moment and Jimmy Vs Jimmy is more or less a stand up show, although I do use a lot of impro and sketch-like situations in my writing and delivery to make the show constantly fresh for me and the audience. I also tried involving ballet but I kept throwing up on the spins.
How do you find the Melbourne improv scene in general?
I type Melbourne Impro scene into Google Maps? It’s fine, there are a lot of lovely, very talented people and there are some complete jerks. I’ve always found the Melbourne improv scene on the whole to be very supportive and positive. More and more troupes are popping up though these days and it will be interesting to see how that effects the scene.
Do you find the audiences differ between stand up and improv?
Really only the heckling. In improv you ask the audience to yell things out, in stand up you pray that they don’t.
You’ve said in a previous interview that you improvise a lot in your stand up “because if the audience sniffs that you’re just saying lines, they’ll eat you alive.” How do you come back from that, from a cold room or from a bombing joke?
I have to improvise while i do stand up because that’s who I am, it’s in my ADHD make up, it keeps things alive and fresh. When I do mess up, I try to act like nothing’s wrong and move on. Not all of your jokes are going to be winners. That’s just life. If you’re still angry after the gig, climb up a mountain and scream at the moon.
Who are your comedic inspirations?
The Muppets, Monty Python, Richard Prior, The Umbilical Brothers, Xavier Michelides and anyone who works their butt off and loves doing comedy for the simple love of doing it…
Your show is kind of about fighting yourself. What led you to write a show about that?
Kind of yes. I constantly catch myself doing stupid things. It’s almost like there’s two Jimmy’s in my drivers seat. One Jimmy’s job is to be a good bloke who tries his best. The other Jimmy’s job is to stop that from happening by being a right twit. Both Jimmy’s have ADHD and depression. Evil Jimmy is very persuasive and Good Jimmy is very easily led. They say write about what you know.
And of course, which other acts are you looking forward to seeing at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival?
Xavier Michelides, Ben Russell, Geraldine Fricker, Aunty Donna, Elbow Skin, Watson, Celia Paccola and Fancy Boys.
Jimmy James Eaton’s show Jimmy vs Jimmy has a preview on 7th April and goes from the 8th April to 19th April at the Imperial Hotel. Tickets start from $10 – buy tickets from the MICF website.