What it's like to be a bostin' Black Country comic
Jonny Cole loves making people laugh.
He’s attracted a loyal following thanks to his unique comedy songs with a Black Country twist.
Born and bred in Wednesbury, the musician had been playing in bands for years before a cheeky tune written about his hometown launched him into the entertainment spotlight.
“I had woken up with a bad hangover and was feeling a bit grumpy so I wrote a song taking the mickey out of where I live, just for a laugh.
“I sent it to my dad, he put it on YouTube and it went viral.
“He told me: 'You should do some more of your funny stuff because no one likes your other stuff’ – family can be so honest,” Jonny tells Weekend.
Since then The Wednesbury Song has been viewed almost a million times.
WATCH Jonny perform The Wednesbury Song
Advisory: Adult content
Inspired by its popularity, he began to pen more comedy tunes and soon they were going down a hit with audiences.
“I was still playing lots in pubs and I was slipping these songs into my set and they were going down better than my covers. It all evolved from there,” says Jonny.
Among his favourites is No Woman, No Sky about a disgruntled ex-girlfriend who leaves spitefully taking the TV remote with her and Drink Like Yam from Tipton, which is a take on The Bangles’ Walk Like an Egyptian.
He has also written original songs in the same style including I Found Love In The Black Country.
“I’m proud of this one because with a parody song all of the hard work is done for you but with this I get to write more and make it my own,” says the 40-year-old.
Before his success on the entertainment circuit Jonny had previously worked in sales but he says that it’s really no different to working in comedy.
“You still talk to people for half an hour and hope they like you at the end of it. A lot of comedians like John Bishop worked in sales before moving into comedy,” says Jonny, who last year completed a mini tour of Britain while spreading his Black Country gospel.
Inspiration for his work comes from every day life around him and the Black Country humour he’s known and loved all his life.
“Black Country humour is the best in the world – people can be so warm and so insulting all at the same time.
“I love listening to old men in pubs bantering with each other. They will be having a good go at each other and they will still walk out as friends at the end of the night because they can laugh at themselves,” says Jonny.
But it’s not been an easy journey for the comedy star as two years ago he suffered a serious health scare.
“I was watching TV. I got up to make a coffee and suddenly I was numb from the waist down, I couldn’t move. I’ve never been ill before so it came out the blue,” says Jonny.
WATCH: Jonny performs I found love in the Black Country
He was diagnosed with the rare disorder cauda equina syndrome and had to undergo emergency spinal surgery.
“I was told I had a 50/50 chance of being able to walk again – that’s not what you want to hear, especially when you’re a stand-up comedian.
“Thankfully the surgery was successful but it was a really scary time in my life,” says Jonny.
It’s taken him a while to recover from the physical and mental impact of his illness and even now some numbness still remains.
“For a long time I didn’t know if I could still be funny because I was feeling miserable as sin. It’s only now that I feel I’m back to full strength and I know I’m lucky because other people that have had cauda equina syndrome are worse off than me. I can cope with a bit of numbness because it could be so much worse."
Now life is going well for Jonny who started presenting his popular breakfast show on Black Country Radio in April.
He’s also recently become the resident compere at The Robin 2 in Bilston, which sponsors his radio programme.
“I’ve been coming to The Robin for years – this is the best venue in the Midlands. You have to travel a long way to find another venue anywhere near as good as this one.
“I’ve never had a bad gig here because the audiences are always great.
“I’ve played in backstreet pubs where no one has paid to hear me sing and it’s hard work to get them to stop talking, put down their pint and listen to me.
“But at the Robin they always want to see you and I feel at home. I’m being taken on as part of the family and as part of the new era of The Robin,” says Jonny.
He feels grateful for all of the opportunities he’s had so far and to be able to what he loves for a living.
“I don’t miss the 9 to 5 at all. I love the variety of what I do now. I go from doing a black-tie event at one of the Midlands’ poshest golf clubs to performing in a bloke’s kitchen in Cannock. No two gigs are ever the same and no two audiences are ever the same.
“It’s a great job trying to make someone laugh. I was always messing about with my guitar and getting told off by my teachers for it. I didn’t know then that one day I would be paid to do the same thing. It’s very satisfying,” says Jonny.
- Jonny Cole will be headlining Jonny’s Bostin’ Christmas Bash at Two Gates Club in Tamworth on December 6. Details: www.twogates.org