Laugh it up with Jimmy Giggle & Hoot | HerCanberra

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Laugh it up with Jimmy Giggle & Hoot

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G&H_Photo_Jimmy_Day_12A preface:

It’s no secret that I experience the occasional celebrity crush. (Hello, dearly departed Patrick.) I get celebrity crushes. I really do.

So I completely got it when I shared with my Facebook friends that I had an interview with Jimmy Rees (aka Giggle) from the wondrously popular ABC Kids’TV show Giggle and Hoot, and mums in my online posse immediately ‘fan-girled’—somewhere on a scale between ‘smitten’ to ‘I had a dream about him last night’.

I can’t mention this in the interview, I thought.

Naturally it was one of the first questions that tumbled out of my mouth: ‘It’s no secret that there’s a fan base amongst the mums…how do you deal with that, Jimmy?’

He was charmingly self-deprecating. He admits it’s ‘a little awkward’. It’s something he didn’t expect from his first professional gig on TV (and might have understood had that gig been Home and Away rather than Giggle and Hoot). He divulged that he and his wife occasionally check in with Facebook pages like “I could teach Jimmy Giggle a Thing or Two ;-)”and think the ‘friendly banter’is entertaining. Which I’m sure it is. My friends probably contribute to it…

But back to my brief: Children’s TV and live performances.

The character wasn’t wholly defined when Jimmy walked into it (winning the role over 5,000 hopefuls). ‘There’s a lot of the ‘real Jimmy’in Jimmy Giggle’and he was able to bring the character to life. While the programs are tightly written, there’s always an element of creativity on set.

‘The puppets add another layer,’he explains. ‘They draw you in. I think they take us back to the characters we remember when we were young, like the Muppets.’

After a busy shooting schedule at the ABC (the cast typically shoot for two full days each week, filming up to twenty short segments per day), there’s a different buzz when they perform live. Jimmy explains that they’re getting something that’s elusive to them when recording TV episodes, and that’s ‘feedback’. With kids, of course that feedback is ‘completely honest’and that’s what he loves about it.

As Jimmy points out, in theatres, young children are often experiencing their very first live performance…(FLASHBACK: I took my then two-year-old son to Giggle and Hoot last time they performed in Canberra. My little boy was all over the theatre, wandering around and calling out during the performance. I spent the entire show crawling along the floor hissing, ‘Seb, SEB!’)

Jimmy said that’s the thing. Little kids are being told to be quiet, when really the cast wants them to break out, join in and interact. He wants them yelling! ‘The fans make the show,’he explains.

Jimmy and his wife are expecting their first child in 2015. He’s anticipating the changed routines and looking forward to having fun with his child. ‘I love challenges and being kept on my toes’, he says.

I’ve often thought it would be fabulous to be married to a professional chef. But imagine the father of your child being a bone fide children’s entertainer…How cool would that be?

“Honey, can you entertain the kids?”

“Sure, let me slip into my Hoot pyjamas…”

Jimmy says the benefit of having his own TV show is that they’ll be able to prop the baby up in front of it if they need a break. Perfect!

This is where the coolest part of our conversation came in. He told me a fabulous story about his own father, who used to entertain Jimmy and his brother at traffic lights by picking up a telephone and pretending to phone the official who ‘changed the lights’.

‘He’d say “Hello, we’re at such-and-such an intersection”…and the lights would be changed for us.’Apparently the joke lasted years.

That’s pedigreed children’s entertainment, right there. It’s not surprising that Jimmy brings to our screens and stages a natural ability to entertain children, despite being a few months off fatherhood himself.

The pint-sized audience went wild last time I saw Giggle and Hoot. I highly recommend the show, and if your child crawls around and yells and is generally disruptively engaged, that’s perfect!

the essentials

What: Jimmy Giggle, Hoot and Friends (B1, B2 and Hoopla Doopla’s Zap, Mimi, Jango)
When: Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 January, 2015
Where: Canberra Theatre Centre
How much:
Tickets: Buy online from Canberra Theatre Centre

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