By Mike Bisceglia
Seacoast Scene, Wednesday, July 8, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of the Seacoast Scene]
Being funny is deadly business, but the real gunslingers of comedy are well-armed. Like all true professionals, when they do what they do, they make it look easy. Their delivery is smooth. Their timing is precise. Their humor is high caliber. It's rapid-fire humor, and it's deadly funny. Hampton's Jimmy Dunn is one of the finest young guns on the comedy circuit today.
If you haven't caught Jimmy's act in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Denver, Tokyo, or aboard a cruise ship in some exotic corner of the globe, certainly you've seen him hundreds of times on television. What? You're not a Red Sox fan? Jimmy's the gravelly-voiced cabbie shuttling Boston visitors to the Olympia Sports Store "right around the cornah."
Dunn, a self-proclaimed "Hampton Beach Rat," wouldn't live anyplace but here. "Why wouldn't I love it here? I grew up here. I know the Casino inside and out. No matter where I travel in the world, I gotta come back to Hampton. No place in the world has the quality of life to compare to the seacoast of New Hampshire."
He says that with a straight face. He isn't kidding.
When asked about his academic accomplishments, Jimmy scratched his head and chuckled. "Hmm, well. I don't think I was anywhere near the top of the class, any class, but I did achieve fame as the writer for the class clown! Maybe I didn't gravitate to the lesson, but I did know 'funny' and I liked it.
As a kid, Jimmy didn't have to go far to find 'funny;' it was right there in his own home. "I'm Irish, and my dad liked to bring a couple of guys home at the end of a work day for a beer or two. I loved to listen to them. I was in stitches. Now, those guys were funny!"
Dunn began a quest for truly funny folk. "I brought home records by Cosby, Kinison, Pryor, and Carlin. I'd play them over and over again. I was really studying them . . . their material, their timing, their choice of words. I wanted what they had, and I wanted to know how to get it. In short, I guess I became a real student of comedy."
His interests didn't exactly sit well with the family. They wanted him to go to college.
"Okay, so I had to go to college. I chose the University of Hawaii. It was perfect. My aunt had a house near the school. I bought a '75 Ford XL convertible and a surfboard, and I didn't get near a classroom. I spent my days surfing and my nights 'researching' the comedy clubs on the island. At the end of the year, I sold the car for more than I had paid. Essentially, I had the best year of my life for free."
Returning stateside, Dunn Not bad, indeed. [Editor's note: Broken sentence fragment is in the original.] The Olympia spots earned Jimmy a regular stint on NESN's Sox Appeal and chance to do short comedy sketches before each game during the Red Sox 2004 drive for a world championship. "It was great. If you're a Boston sports nut like I am, it was an absolute dream come true. Just like the Boston teams of late, I'm having a great run."
Dunn may be the Hampton Apostle of Mirth, but he still drives a '67 Bronco to tote his many surfboards around the New Hampshire coast.
"I even have a '73 Boston Whaler," Dunn said, between sips of a carob smoothie. He was barefoot, relaxed, and perched on a stool in his 'office' in front of The Secret Spot at North Beach. "I call it Ulf after hockey's Ulf Samuelson. I use the boat to check on my five lobster traps in Plaice Cove."
"I love being a comic," Dunn said. I get to work one hour a night and have 23 hours a day to have fun."
Fun is an integral part of the Dunn mystique Jimmy has a knack for turning a simple good time into a rollicking event.
"My buddies and I were surfing in the Virgin Islands, and somebody recognized me as `Taxi Guy.' The next thing, my troop was getting free food and drink at this club for three weeks if I performed nightly. I packed `em in, but I still think the management came out on the short end of that deal."
Jimmy is on a quest for the perfect word for the perfect gag. In the meantime, which might last a lifetime, he is very content to spread his doctrine of laughter throughout the world. It's deadly funny stuff, and he's very, very good!