Helping to put the ho ho ho into Christmas this year is Jonny Awsum. We caught up with the ‘musical comedian’ ahead of his show at Therapy Room Comedy Club and discover his fantasy music and comedy gala and the weirdest thing he’s ever signed…
There’s quite a lot of music in your act, have you always had a passion for it?
Yes, when I was 8 my Dad showed me a video of Queen playing at Wembley Stadium and it blew me away, I was in bands for years after that playing guitar and trying to get my hair like Brian May.
Would you describe yourself as a musician who tells jokes or a comedian who plays music?
Isn’t that the same thing? I like the term ‘musical comedian’ I think it’s a good description of what I do, I use music to get laughs.
Sometimes it must be tough revving up a warm up a lukewarm crowd into a raucous singalong. Could you tell us about a time it has/hasn’t worked out?
I have just come back from playing to the troops overseas, one show was tough because we had a load of marines in and they were very serious guys, I challenged them to a singing competition and they won! They were ace and from that point on I had a great gig.
Your inclusive style is a hit on the festival circuit, is there a different mindset needed for playing a club and playing a tent?
Totally, my inner rock star is always present when I am onstage in a club but when I start walking round on grass at a festival it comes fully out (that is not a drug reference by the way).
Talking of festivals we hear Edinburgh is like a tour of duty for the performers, will you do/do you do anything special afterwards to recover?
Yes I’m going to relax by going on tour to Hong Kong! I’ve heard you can eat the most bonkers things out there, which I’m gonna have a go at – good practice in case I end up on ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’!
We swear we saw you on television with a top hat and cane talking about boxing a couple of years ago. What was all of that about?
Ha ha! I got the chance to dress as a ‘twisted’ ringmaster on SKY Sports and introduce the boxers for a big fight, I’m not sure what was scarier the heavy weights or me in all that make up!
Between the festivals, telly appearances and headlining many many clubs you must get recognised by strangers. Has it been a positive or negative experience?
It doesn’t happen a huge amount on the street but I do love being recognised and people often tweet me when I pop up in the ad breaks. One guy took it a bit further and brought some Cravendale milk to a show and asked me to sign it after I had been in the Cravendale campaign!
Have you been mistaken for someone else?
No but I am aware that I have a bit of Mr Bean in my DNA.
What’s the best thing you’ve read about yourself, true or false?
I was doing a gig in Hull once and someone wrote that it was a big deal for me cos it was a hometown show, I am from Derby and at that point had never been to Hull.
You’ve have been close to comedy a long time having worked at the Chuckle Club before you became a stand up. What surprised you most when you made it on stage?
Just how different gigs can be from each other. It’s easy to do one great gig and think you’ve smashed it, but it’s about learning to play different rooms, different times and different types of audience. Adam Bloom put it brilliantly – he said “you don’t become a qualified pilot after one good flight Jonny, you need to fly through a few storms first”. It was great advice and I’ve always remembered it.
Did it change the way you see comedians?
It was lovely for me because I knew a fair few acts that had played the Chuckle Club over the years and they were very helpful when I made the transition from bartender to act.
If you could put together you fantasy music and comedy gala night of a musician, a comedian and somebody who does both who would you book?
Frank Turner to do the music, he’s a mate and I reckon I could drag him away from his world tour to do it, Damo Clark to do the comedy, he’s one of my favourite acts to watch when I’m at a gig and Steel Panther to do both – they are greatest comedy band in the world. And me to MC!
Therapy Room Comedy Club at Salomons, Broomhill Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells
17th & 18th December: Jonny Awsum, Philberto Funmbi Omotayo and Phil Dinsdale MC
All shows start at 8.30pm Doors Open 7pm
Tickets £33 includes a pre show two course meal, live music and disco or £16 show and disco only and are available to buy online