Some of you may remember Mr John 0’Sullivan from his Candy Box days. Others may have seen him on an episode of Come Dine with Me or John Bishops show. Some of you may have even seen him milling around the Carfax with his flat cap and comedic glasses; but if you weren’t aware, Mr O’Sullivan is a Horsham resident, with a talent for making people laugh.
When I heard John was returning to the stage, breaking his 5 year sabbatical, I thought a coffee and a chat was needed… He was buying.
We met at the Pret a Manger, which John calls something else, but this is a family paper, so we won’t go into that. Instead, we’ll use it to lead into Mr O’Sullivan’s repertoire, which is definitely more of an adult focused act.
John describes himself as coming from a loving middle class family. Having moved to our wonderful town in his teens, he attended (sometimes) a drama college in Chichester. From an early age, John realised he enjoyed making people laugh and had a flare for the performing arts: “I enjoyed drama college very much, but unfortunately for me, I became a bit of a trouble maker, so drama school wasn’t an option going forward.”
Instead, John says he: “decided to work for a living and got a job in a nightclub in London.” It was here that he met a few ‘proper’ comedians, who would show him some of the skills needed to make it in the world of comedy.. Looking back, John adds: “they were very funny”. John appeared in a performance called ‘The Stephen Hawking experience’, which he took all the way to Edinburgh, Scotland. He recalls: “they didn’t like us much so we came back”
I’ve known John a while and can confirm he has expensive taste: “My two main vices are B & H cigarettes and steak” he concludes. On establishing keeping his expensive lifestyle would need more than the income of a slightly amusing, un-loved by the Scottish, stand up comedian, John decided to get a proper job….at the House of Commons… Well, ‘Anne’s Bar’ at the House of Commons, but it sounded good. Here, he had a most important role to play: Get (and keep) MP’s drunk – a role, you can imagine, that wasn’t too taxing.
John was very proficient at his new found position and was well liked. On the matter, he states: “The MP’s couldn’t understand why I didn’t speak with a common accent, which is the way all the staff seemed to speak. It was like the cellars of Downton Abbey.” He found himself invited to sleepovers with some of the MP’s – sometimes on his own and sometimes with groups. His experiences have been committed to memory to be used at a later date for a later performance – I’ll keep you posted.
Whilst commuting to London, John noticed the small newsagents, at Horsham Station, gradually deteriorate over time. He recalls his sadness over it: “I liked that little shop; It sold me my B & H”. So upset with it’s demise, he bought it and promptly left the commons. Where he got the money from, I don’t know, but I could hazard a guess – wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.
It was here that John’s love of the public grew and he started to develop his comedic talent, using material from the characters he met on a daily basis. The shop became more and more popular, and business was good – so good, that in 2008, John bought the Candy Box newsagents in the Carfax, which led to John being more noticed locally.
This, of course, has nothing to do with his risque bill boards, such as, ‘Crawley girl gives birth to pitbull’, ‘Schizopherenic kills her self twice horror’, or the banning of British Airways staff from his shops, on account of their strike one Christmas, which interrupted John’s holidays and subsequently featured on the The News at 10. You get the picture, so I won’t go on… OK, maybe a few more: The paying of parking fines in coppers, served in a bowl of strawberry jelly, or the huge poster, above his shop, of him on the lavatory.
It’s clear John’s trouble-maker gene had raised it’s head again, to the delight of many, and he even roped his staff into it – namely the ageing Denise, who accompanied him in all his shenanigans, both on and off the screen (YouTube: Look it up. It’s hilarious). However, whilst his antics weren’t appreciated by everyone, it did allow John to do what he loves and in 2010, he performed on stage at The Capitol Theatre, to a sell out crowd.
“I really, really enjoyed every minute of that performance,” says John, “Laughter and full theatres, is what does it for me”. The performance went down so well, a 2nd was booked in the bigger Hawth Theatre in Crawley. I know… they let John into Crawley.
Since 2011, John has appeared on tv and compared at live events across the district. He has even been Heston Blumenthal’s body double for 5 commercials. But in the main, John has been relatively quiet over the past 5 years. He explains: “I think it’s time to get back to what I enjoy doing and I’ve even managed to get Denise a day release from the home, to appear with me. Lucky it was a mild winter!”
John’s new show ‘Come on my sofa’ can be seen at The Capitol on September 3 and tickets are available at the Capitol Box Office. All proceeds go to St Catherine’s Hospice.
If you enjoy a good laugh and happy to be shocked book your ticket today as they have almost sold out, those who are slightly more sensitive might want to give this one a miss.