The world's only bomb disposing stand-up comedian: Steve Rimmer of the Royal Engineers to play Hull gigs
THE strangest things go through your mind when you're about to defuse a bomb.
And it's not just your feet, jokes Steve Rimmer, revealing what he cheerfully describes as his "dark squaddie humour".
"It's the strange little things," he says. "Things like, 'I haven't paid my loan off on the car yet'. Stupid little things that don't really matter."
It is those moments, when you are about to put life and limb on the line for your brothers in arms, that Hull-raised Steve describes as the "shake down time".
CAR KEYS AND REMOTES "FREE REMOTE KEY FOB BATTERY" 01482 423414 ...View details
FOR ALL YOUR CAR KEY NEEDS CALL US NOW ON
SNAPPED KEYS, LOST KEYS, KEYS LOCKED IN VEHICLES,
WE ALSO REPAIR 90% OF ALL REMOTES AND KEYS, NO FIX NO CHARGE.
Terms: FREE REMOTE KEY FOB BATTERY ONE PER CUSTOMER
Contact: 01482 423414
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
"That's when you have to clear your mind of all personal thoughts; all your thoughts of friends and family," says the 33-year-old.
"It's the time when you just have to focus everything on what you're doing. Get into the zone. If you're the lead man, that's when all eyes are on you."
It is also the moment when you're painfully aware of your own mortality, says the former Royal Engineers bomb disposal expert.
He says: "The armour you wear is really heavy. It's technically called 'full bomb disposal combat armour'.
"It's a heavy-duty flak jacket with blast plates front and back, a helmet and full arm and leg protectors. It could probably help you survive a 5kg artillery shell type of device.
"But everyone knows, if it's a 50lb bomb, the suit's mainly there to hold your body together in one piece for retrieval."
Steve certainly knows the adrenaline rush of stepping up to defuse unexploded devices.
In a bomb disposal career spanning five years with the Army, he has helped sweep minefields in Serbia, tackled booby traps in Northern Ireland, completed tours of Iraq and Afghanistan and even abseiled onto a boat on the Thames with special forces in the hunt for chemical weapons.
It is a rush he has never experienced anywhere else – until he took to the stage at an open mic comedy night in 2010 and realised he got the same thrill from standing on stage in front of a roomful of expectant strangers as he did from deciding whether to cut the red or blue wires.
If Hollywood is to be believed, it is always the red one, he says.
Since then, Steve has built a reputation as an explosive comedian on the London stand-up circuit and is now looking to branch out across the country.
He has several Hull dates lined up in the next few months, starting with a performance at Giggle Live at the Haworth Arms, Cottingham Road, on Sunday, March 3.
"I think I am the world's only bomb disposing stand-up," he says. "It's quite a niche job description.
"To start with I used to have a clock on stage with me, counting down. I'd say to the audience, 'Don't worry about that. That's just for me.' But you could actually see people getting uncomfortable as it clicked down to zero, like they thought I'd actually take a bomb on stage with me.
"When I go on, I explain that I am a bomb disposal engineer, but you can tell some people don't believe you. They think it's all part of an act. But the more you explain about what you do, the more they realise you're not pulling their leg.
"All most people know about bomb disposal is from The Hurt Locker, so I show a few pictures of the Hollywood version with Jeremy Renner looking really cool with explosions behind him.
"Then I show them the reality of it, which is a picture of my head crammed into a helmet looking like a minion from Despicable Me. It's fair to say it's not glamorous."
Steve says he never thought he would find anything that gave him the same adrenaline rush as working on bombs, but stand-up gives him that buzz.
He says: "You never know how it's going to turn out, one night from the next. But walking off stage after a storming gig gives you the same feeling as walking away from a disarmed device, knowing you've beaten it.
"I like to say I spend my days avoiding bombs and my nights avoiding bombing."
Since leaving the Army in 2007, Steve, a father and stepfather to two with another baby on the way with his partner Kate in June, has worked as a freelance bomb expert, helping to clear building sites of ordnance usually left over from Second World War German bombing raids.
It is a career that allows him to travel the country, making sites safe for development by day and taking to the stage at the local comedy club by night.
Hull, unsurprisingly considering the Luftwaffe's penchant for bombing it, has more than its fair share of undiscovered explosives hidden deep below ground, says Steve, of Hedon.
Sitting in Costa Coffee, off Brighton Street, in Hull, in his fluorescent-piped overalls, Steve could probably be mistaken for a council worker or bin man by the casual observer.
He is en route home from London, where he has been sweeping a site, making sure there are no nasty explosive surprises waiting for the excavation workers.
Steve is a chatty, affable character who doesn't mind venturing into the "did he really say that?" territory.
Steve says: "People who aren't in the forces are sometimes unsure whether they can laugh at some of the gruesome things that happen in the Army. But I do a lot of shows for soldiers and for charities such as Help For Heroes and they love it.
"It's a real dark squaddie humour. They just appreciate someone talking about it. It's like a pressure valve.
"It may sound funny to an outsider, but I try to look at the lighter side of bomb disposal."
For more information about Steve, visit www.steve-stand-up-rimmer.co.uk