REVIEW: Jonathan Pie at the Lowry

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JONATHAN Pie, a spoof news broadcaster, has taken his act to the stage after receiving large swathes of popularity on social media. His tour is in the same vein as his trending videos, in which he plays a serious reporter to camera, and anything but when he goes off air.

Andrew Doyle, co-creator of the character Jonathan Pie strides onto the stage first to warm the audience up. Knowing the audience Jonathan Pie attracts, he unsurprisingly kicks off with the topic of politics, dishing out some sharp character assassinations of Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and of course Donald Trump.

He quickly moves on to showcase his own brand of stand-up.

After conversing with several audience members he then delves into the complexities of the gay community, by listing the multiple sub-categories gay men pigeonhole themselves into.

His material isn’t cutting edge, however his on stage persona exudes humour with confidence and camp bravado.

His biggest laugh came from an impromptu grab of sweets from an audience member in the front row, in which he took a handful only to pretend to spit them back into the bag. With this, his act gathered momentum to end his set with the Salford audience in stitches.

Jonathan Pie, played by actor Tom Walker, takes over after the interval. He plays the host of Children in Need in this live performance, a clever vehicle that allows his act to follow the same format of his online viral videos. Even Tim, his unseen producer is along for the ride.

Pie switches from hosting the show, to then turning his attention to the studio audience to perform his producer’s vision of light entertainment. The result is somewhat different.

Left wing political rants in the form of fierce tirades erupting from Pie’s turbulent soul are the premise of the show. His forceful energy is unparalleled by any other comedian, performing with the intensity of Gordon Ramsey shouting about an under seasoned risotto.

There is a justification for all this swearing however. It’s part of the reason that his videos, as well as being funny, have become overwhelmingly popular. Failures of the Tory Government are the beating heart of his rage and, judging by the applause he receives after each piercing statement he makes at them, he’s not alone.

Pie’s most shocking revelation is that charity should be seen as a sign of failure. He hits home that it should be a government’s responsibility to care for everyone in society, which would eradicate the dependence on organisations such as Shelter and, the very show he is pretending to host, Children in Need.

The show is not just a left wing political lecture however. Brutal personal attacks on politicians are thrown in with clockwork regularity. Pie berates himself for these outbursts, as it brings the focus off the dire policies put in place by those he’s attacking, but they are nonetheless hilarious parts of the show, if a little crass and obscene.

A little background about Pie’s character is also on show in the form of a phone call, revealing that it’s not just politics and his career he’s despondent at. His ear piece also allows his producer to feature in the act. However, these segments of the show that feature unheard characters make for clumsy and disjointed jokes, with Pie losing his connection with his audience.

As Pie comes to the end of his show, his rants become even more intense and fiery. His passion easily exceeds every current politician and it’s startling to witness.

The ending to the show could be snappier, as Walker performing to camera with a different attitude which doesn’t quite work.

Despite this, Pie serves up the sharp satire needed in this political climate. It’s a reminder to his audiences that they’re not alone in their despair at current affairs – just as long as they have a left wing point of view, that is.

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