Mancunian stand-up Josh Jones is a comedic breath of feelgood fresh air. A cheerful ray of sunshine looking on the bright side of life. And it’s paying off. Last year the rising star was nominated for Best Newcomer in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards.
He has been breaking through on TV too, with notable appearances on programmes including The Jonathan Ross Show, 8 Out of 10 Cats and Iain Stirling’s CelebAbility.
Josh is back at Leicester Comedy Festival in February with his new tour, Gobsmacked, which takes in tales of getting fit at thirty, getting advice from his mum’s psychic and a goose-related incident that has to be heard to be believed.
You can catch the show at Firebug on Saturday 17 February, and we chatted to him to find out more about it.
Tell us about your new show, Gobsmacked.
I was thirty in December and it started off being about that, but it’s become just about an hour of silly stand-up, loads of stupid stories from my life. Maybe about being a bit more comfortable in my own skin. It’s also about my family.
Your debut show was about various embarrassing injuries and escapades. You seem to have an endless supply of anecdotes.
People can’t believe the stories, but my friends come and know everything is true. I got told to start stand-up because this mad stuff just happens to me all the time. I don’t know why. I think I’m a bit of a daydreamer. Even when I’m walking down the street, I end up on a road I didn’t mean to be on. My school reports used to say my head was in the clouds. When you’re a bit like that weird stuff just happens.
You radiate cheekiness and happiness, which is unusual for a comedian.
I think I’m upbeat. I want to entertain people. A lot of comedians can be depressive or cynical, whereas I’m like, ‘oh, that’s quite lovely.’
You talk onstage about your mum. Do you get your humour from her?
Yes, she should’ve been a performer. She’s in her sixties and I don’t know anyone else that age who has so many friends. She’s been married three times and has had quite a few names and passports. She’s like a spy. I got my gift of the gab from her.
You are into fitness…
Excuse my red face, I’ve just come in from a run. I’m currently trying to lose weight without going on a diet.
Do you ever read your reviews?
After the Fringe last year I was sent all my reviews and even the really good ones said I was too filthy. This new show isn’t as filthy. It’s got about five minutes about sex and one really outrageous joke that gets a massive reaction so I’m not gonna get rid of it. But to be honest, this is my little chip on my shoulder. I think when it’s a straight stand-up talking about sex, nobody notices, but because I’m talking about gay people having sex reviewers say ‘oh, that was a bit much.’ But it’s just how we have sex.
Who would you say your typical fans are?
I feel like I connect more to people ten years older than me than ten years younger. My boyfriend is seven years older and it doesn’t seem that much, but I would never go near a 23-year-old. It would do my head in. I get a mix of young people, gay blokes and women in their sixties.
You have an amazing ability to chat onstage as if you are gossiping to your friends in the pub.
I think there are two types of stand-up. People who were raised watching stand up and their big dream was to be a comedian. And then the one that I fall into is just the idiot, the one whose friends told them they should do comedy.
It wasn’t always your dream?
I never wanted to be a comedian. I wanted to be a serious actor. I thought stand-up was a waste of time. I didn’t understand why people enjoyed it. I didn’t want to listen to one person talking. Now, I’ve completely changed my mind! I think maybe it helped that I wasn’t interested – because I didn’t know any comedians I wasn’t trying to be like anyone.
So how did you become a stand-up?
I went to Oldham College and did a BTech drama course. Suranne Jones and Sarah Lancashire went there, anyone who did Coronation Street went there. My teacher said I should focus on comedy. They said with my style all I’ll ever get is a nurse on Coronation Street or maybe a sex worker in an ITV cop drama who killed one of his clients. In a way it was the best advice I ever got.
You’ve said you were bullied into doing stand-up.
Then I went to Salford Uni and my friends and the teachers kept trying to get me to do stand-up. I said I wouldn’t. Then this professional comedian came in to teach and said I should do it and I thought, if he’s making money he knows what he’s talking about. I don’t know what he saw in me. At the time I was doing a sketch where I was playing a sperm racing to an egg, wearing a swimming cap with Sudocrem on my face. I don’t know what he saw in that.
You started out on the working men’s club circuit. Was that a good place to learn how to handle a tough crowd?
Yes, I’ve learnt how to do every type of audience. When I started in my early twenties I looked about 11. I was like a little weird gay child. I actually felt like I had a bit of a secret weapon because most of the acts were straight blokes. When you’re a bit different it gives the night an extra spice. I’d come on and to show dominance I’d rip into the biggest bloke in the crowd. After that I was in control.
Are there any show business connections in your family?
I’m related to someone who is really showbiz but I’ve never met him. My grandma’s grandma’s sister, her grandson is Bernard Hill, who is the captain in Titanic and was in Lord of the Rings. I don’t think my grandma has seen him since the 1980s, but there’s a photo of them both in her living room.
You made a splash appearing on The Jonathan Ross Show with Katherine Ryan and Craig David. Do you get nervous?
I love doing TV. You get picked up in a car. There’s loads of free food and sweets. It was just a fun day out and they treat you really well. I felt like Mariah Carey.
Do you feel under any pressure after your Best Newcomer nomination last year?
Not really. I don’t have to worry about that ever again. I can just enjoy myself. Of course I want this show to be better than the last show, but the goal is to make sure everyone who comes to see me has a lovely time and a good laugh.
Catch Josh Jones at Firebug on Saturday 17 February as part of Leicester Comedy Festival. Tickets are on sale HERE.