Shropshire Star

'Shropshire's own Tommy Cooper!' Tributes to dairy farmer who became county comedy legend

Warm tributes have been paid after the death of a Shropshire farmer who was equally adept at comedy having been involved in more than 500 concerts.

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Martin ‘Monologue’ Jones spent 40 years presenting comedy shows

Dairy farmer Martin ‘Monologue’ Jones, who has died at the age of 74, spent 40 years presenting comedy shows throughout the county writing crazy comedy songs on subjects including slurry tsunamis, and malevolent milking machines.

Mr Jones, of Pontesbury, was fondly remembered far and wide, perhaps best known in Shropshire’s village halls as the manic farmer in the comedy group Three Men In A Bow Tie. He died on Friday at The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital after a short illness.

Leading the tributes was the leader of Shropshire Council Lezley Picton who said: “He was a top bloke and very, very funny.”

Former Radio Shropshire news editor John Shone described him as “a very talented guy".

Martin's comedy colleague Chris Eldon Lee said: “Martin simply had to stand on stage, and people would fall about laughing. He was our Tommy Cooper.”

Shrewsbury’s Town Crier Martin Wood first met him appearing in village pantomimes together. “I’m so sorry to hear this,” he said.

In more than 500 concerts he wrote and performed scores of crazy comic songs such as Robot Milker - about a malevolent machine which mistakes the farm cat for a cow.

Then there was The Slurry Song, about tsunamis of dung, and Pig With No Poke; all written from his own farming experiences.

Mr Eldon Lee added that his piece de resistance was to dress up as Freda The Female Farmer, trying to sell baler-twine thongs to the audience.

"His humour is best described as ‘unique.', said Mr Eldon Lee.

His other achievements include appearing at The Edinburgh Festival, writing and performing a historical farming pageant at the West Mid Showground, and being profiled in a BBC 2 documentary on the state of farming in 1999.

In 2003 he appeared at Shrewsbury Music Hall as Harry Hotspur in the Battle of Shrewsbury anniversary stage adaptation of Ellis Peters’ A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury.

He was much loved by visitors to the National Trust’s Attingham Park where he would lead tours of the house in the guise of the owner Lord Berwick, and would inevitably go down on one knee to propose at random to a rather surprised lady tourist.

Martin Jones was also a staunch member of the Pontesbury Players.

In 1990 he represented Shropshire at a national drama competition final, playing a budgie in a cage in the absurdist play Bird Song.

He was later commissioned to create and perform two plays by the Wenlock Festival, one of which, One Man And His Jog, was based on his passion for long distance running. In fact, he ran continuously whilst performing the play.

He wrote and directed a dozen pantomimes for Pontesbury, including The Pied Piper which is on stage at the Public Hall from January 31 to February 3.

As a final tribute to Martin, The Players are planning a standing ovation for him at the end of every performance.

He leaves his wife Sue, a daughter Rosie and two sons, Matthew and Tom. Funeral arrangements are still to be announced.