When it comes to old-fashioned comics with a cult following, they don’t come much bigger than Geoffrey Rowe, better known by his stage name Jethro.
The Cornish comic will grace Ferneham Hall in Fareham with his tales tomorrow.
Over the years, Jethro has built up a dedicated fanbase that return time and again to see him live.
‘I have been lucky – some people have seen me 20 times over the years. I go out in the crowd and meet them, I don’t pay attention to any of this showbiz business,’ he says.
His show will contain new material, with some classic Jethro mixed in for good measure. ‘Sometimes you can say “I’ll do a completely new show”, perform it and then someone will come up to you afterwards and say “You never did the story about the duck”. So you can’t win,’ says Jethro.
Jethro describes himself as an ‘old-fashioned storyteller’ – but he does crack the odd gag.
‘My wife said “you spent £50 on whisky this Christmas” and I said “you spent £80 on makeup”. Well she said “that was to look beautiful for you darling” and I said “that’s exactly the same reason I did”. It’s nonsense isn’t it,’ he laughs.
Sometimes the giggles have been unintentional, particularly when it came to one TV appearance.
‘I did The Generation Game with Jim Davidson once, and they had all these obscure tools. I had to give three examples of what they were used for and the public had to guess which one was right.
‘One of them was a Norfolk dike digger, a scoop on the bottom of a long handle. In rehearsals I said it was for digging out the bottom of a dike in Norfolk and that started Jim going. When we came to do the show it was chaos. The crowd were howling – luckily it was pre-recorded.’
Jethro got his big break performing on TV shows hosted by Des O’Connor. ‘I thought when I was doing big crowds in big theatres, “I’ve got to make the most of this, it will only last 12 months” but it lasted 20 years,’ he says.
‘I’m 66 now so I go where I enjoy playing, I’m not good with the inner city. A theatre like Ferneham Hall that fits 5, 6, 700 people, that will do me.’
Jethro isn’t a fan of comedy today. ‘I have listened to it for thosands of hours, I watch Live At The Apollo – I can’t see it. It is not my humour. I can’t stand over-acting, it goes right through me. They shout and say something funny and then repeat it once, twice... stop. You always stop when the crowd want to hear it one more time. I think “for God’s sake, move on.” I couldn’t do that kind of humour, but millions of people love it and I would never tell anybody what to laugh at because humour is a very individual thing.’
Jethro returns to Ferneham hall in Fareham on Saturday, January 31 at 7.30pm. Tickets: £19.50. Call 01329 231942 or go to fernehamhall.co.uk