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East coaster hits the third coast stage

Performer Jimmy Flynn making 'em laugh after 30 years

Terry Halifax
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Aug 09/02) - There were hands clapping, feet stomping and sides splitting last weekend at the Zoo, where Maritimer Jimmy Flynn performed his special brand of music and comedy.

With an auctioneer's tempo and a heavy Eastern accent, Flynn had some searching for the subtitles, but the punchlines were always easy enough to understand and the rollicking beat was universal.

Born in Marystown, Nfld., and brought up in Cape Breton, Flynn's father was a boat builder and ship's captain, but Flynn saw something else in store for him when he drove out to Vancouver at the age of 17 years.

"That's where I started singing and playing and I stayed out there eight years," Flynn said. "Then I got a call to go out to the Maritimes for a 10-week tour and I never went back to Vancouver."

"In 30 years, I've never had a bad night on the stage," he said.

The only one in the family of six kids who ever developed a musical talent, he feels it all stems from the attention he got in his school days.

"I was always kind of a wild kid when I was young; the class clown and that type of thing," he said. "I guess I was in the profession back then and there's no sense changing, right?"

He stays at it because he loves to make people laugh.

"An old preacher once told me, 'Son what you're doing is the most important thing in the world,' " he said. "I said, 'What's that?' "

"He said, 'Making people laugh.' "

He also draws inspiration from his son who passed away six years ago.

"Even when he was dying of cancer, he'd say, 'Daddy, go out and make those people laugh.' "

This was Flynn's second time in Inuvik, having once performed at the Fireman's Ball. He says he gets calls from all over the world now.

Playing around the world

"You never know where they're going to call you from. The other day I got a call to go to Saudi Arabia," he said.

He's been playing for a lot of conventions and says he doesn't get much chance to sing for the East Coast crowd except on the bar circuit.

"There's a lot of Maritimers out here," he said. "We're going to Fort McMurray and there's supposed to be 25,000 down there."

He sold out two shows in Yellowknife and will return there before leaving the North and will also tour the diamond mines.

"There's two shifts, so we'll play a show in the afternoon and play a show at night," he said.

Flynn's working on a TV series, has written a movie script and has bought a farm in New Brunswick he's turning into a convention centre.

"We're going to have big parties in there in the years to come," he said. "I'll have the people come to me rather than me go to them."

In his travels from coast to coast to coast and around the world he's met thousands of people and he says Canada is the greatest country in the world, but the common denominator anywhere is a smiling face.

"People are people where ever you go," he said. "It's a long way from here to Nova Scotia, but if you walk around with a smile on your face, people will smile right back."