Now the 37-year-old is returning to his home city as a comedian whose act has headlined across the world.
He has been made a patron of the Derby Comedy Festival, which is just about to launch into its second year, and he and his friends will be the opening show on July 3.
“I am thrilled to be a patron. Do I get freedom of the city or a big chain to wear?” he jests when I speak with him about the honour.
More seriously, he adds, he is delighted to be given the opportunity to help put the festival on the comedy map by raising its profile nationally.
“I really am pleased to be involved and I will be doing everything I can to make it successful,” he said.
Jonny is sharp, likeable and engaging and has exploded on to the professional comedy scene with a set which provides numerous side-splitting laughs.
His vitality is infectious and his feel-good vibe spills out into the crowd, which is always very much part of his show and members of the audience are often pulled up on to the stage.
He is a musical comedian, never without his trusty guitar and he rarely touches on politics or the news preferring to mine the gold that is the audience in front of him.
“There is so much material to gain from the people who have turned up. So many funny moments to be had. I get a kick out of it and it works for me and the audience enjoys the fact that it is personal and bespoke to them,” he said.
Jonny, who went to school in Chellaston, now lives in Croydon but still returns to Derby to see his parents on a regular basis.
He was there, busy changing the strings on his guitar after a minor faux pas at the Download Festival the night before, when I spoke to him.
“I don’t do it often enough really,” he confessed. “That will be why my string broke when I was in front of the crowd, but luckily I had a spare guitar with me last night.”
Jonny has always been a performer and says he was considered the classroom clown at school and was the resident fool back in the days of the rock band.
He and his fellow band members worked hard to make a success of the Bazookas but it wasn’t to be and when it fell apart he found himself as a full time barman at London’s Chuckle Club.
“It was while I was working there that I saw other musical comedians and I had my light bulb moment and thought that maybe I could marry together my two talents for music and comedy. It just seemed like a natural step and I am loving every minute of it.”
Since then he has risen quickly from a fresh faced newbie to a highly sought-after act. He is also getting TV work and featured in one of the Cravendale milk ‘Cats with Thumbs’ adverts.
He will be opening the Derby Comedy Festival with Gein’s Family Giftshop, Mark Simmons and Mickey D at the Guildhall Theatre at 8pm on July 3 and performing his show destined for the Edinburgh Fringe at Bar One in Derby on July 5 at 2pm.
For Comedy Festival details turn to the agenda pages or go to http://www.derbycomedyfestival.co.uk