Jonathan Pie review by Rob Johnson

Jonathan Pie is the creation of comic Tom Walker. The conceit is that Pie is a newsreader who can’t help but go off script and start ranting about the state of the world . Thus far, his videos have racked up millions of views and his tour dates are selling out across the country. The liberal heartland of Sheffield is the perfect location for the character and as he correctly points out, it’s also a beautiful setting for live comedy.

Before the main event, however, Scottish comic Jojo Sutherland services the crowd with a bittersweet comedic starter that takes in motherhood, mortality and growing old disgracefully. Sutherland astutely notes that her four kids only contact her when they want money or when they’ve fucked up before going on to point out that having kids is the same as a night out. You have two or three and then you just can’t stop. The main set piece of the set is a hilarious story that involves Sutherland locking herself out of her hotel room whilst wearing only a watch. I won’t spoil the punchline here but it’s a beauty.

With the Sheffield crowd suitably warmed up and limber, Pie takes to the stage amidst an impressive visual display that eventually transforms into the Strictly Come Dancing logo and theme song (or at least a copyright-friendly version) and the man himself literally dances on stage to rapturous applause.

Pie begins with a suitably sweary and provocative bit about his campaign to persuade teenagers to vote (or Get the Vote Out for the Lads as he dubs it). While this endeavour has made an inauspicious start (‘Put your cock away and take this leaflet’), Pie is confident it will win out in the end. Our fearless newsreader even attempts to indulge in a rap to try and influence ‘the kids’ before quickly realising it’s a bad idea and reverting to type – ‘type’ in this case being relentless political diatribes. The Royal Family, the BBC, Jordan Peterson, Andrew Tate, Kier Starmer, every member of the Tory cabinet (past or present)… nobody is safe from Pie’s ire, although he does concede a grudging respect for the late Queen Elizabeth II (whilst never losing sight of her incredible wealth). This segues seamlessly into a bit about how if Prince William really did want to stop homelessness he could do so with a click of his fingers before concluding with a long and wickedly funny segment about King Charles’ ‘big royal sausage fingers’.

At his best, Pie’s frustration and agony at the state of things sees him twist and contort into an unlikely mixture of Alan Partridge and Bill Hicks. It’s heady stuff and while the whole show is undoubtedly funny, there are moments here that transcend comedy and transform into something closer to a political rally. Crucially, Pie is always careful never to descend into tubthumping for the sake of it or naive idealism. No, he remains grounded, furious and truly unique. This is the newsreader from the film Network’s ‘We’re not gonna take this anymore’ speech but extended to 80 furious and flaming minutes. His rants on Rishi Sunak (focused on his obscene wealth) and Liz Truss (focused on her obscene incompetence) are closer to dramatic monologues from a one-man show rather than stand-up comedy. At times it’s hair on the back of the neck stuff. Truly inspiring.

The evening ends with a long segment on hypocrisy, and while it never quite hits the blistering heights of the first part of the show, it’s still epic, heart-pounding stuff that sees the crowd on its feet by the end of the show. Jonathan Pie started life as a viral online sensation. He’s transcended that now to become one of the most vibrant and thought-provoking acts on the circuit. Vital, life-affirming stuff.

Jonathan Pie is heading to the West End and you can find more details on that here

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