Review- Jonny & The Baptists – Eat The Poor

Jonny & The Baptists – Eat The Poor – New Wolsey Theatre last night and touring

This is the fourth time Jonny Donahoe and Paddy Gervers have brought their comedy act to the New Wolsey – but the first time I’ve caught up with them.

At first glance at the title you would think this is possibly a music gig. Look closer and you’ll see that this band consist of just two people and yes they play songs, but this left wing duo are intent on bringing you songs of protest and politics that are both witty and extremely funny.

Jonny and Paddy have been together for a long while – but nothing about their act feels stale. They are obviously enjoying themselves – and that easy camaraderie comes over to the audience.

Coming to prominence at the Edinburgh Fringe they then had an added boost with an anti UKIP song that caused Paul Nuttall’s hackles to rise, which in turn gave the boys lots of free publicity.

They have also previously toured with political comedian Mark Thomas – and if you know his work you can see the influences in the combination of off the wall silliness and political comment while weaving a credible story.

The show falls into two halves. The first is mainly songs that bash the establishment and highlight the gross and widening deficiencies between rich and poor. The second is a practical look at homelessness as they project themselves into the future where Jonny has got lucrative work with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Paddy is down and out on the streets.

The boys never take themselves that seriously but in a time of unprecedented turmoil with the rise of Trump, the onset of Brexit, Nicola Sturgeon, and North Korea there is somewhat of a missed opportunity in their lampooning of a lot of obvious targets in Margaret Thatcher, ALW and the Duke of Westminster. In our strange age of a snap election and the struggling main parties they do have plenty of material – but its got to be said none of their diatribe is particularly original or unexpected for two left wing comedians.

Having said that its all very funny and while being tongue in cheek they still managed to get over the important underlying message about the collapse of democracy and the ever widening gap between the haves and the have nots – even if their views on the cause and effect are fairly simplistic.

The boys are (mostly) easy company and very engaging. Its like going to a fringe gig in a pub – and although they do tend to harp on the same old targets – nevertheless this was an entertaining evening that sent you away with a warm fuzzy feeling. However, having squirmed through some of Mark Thomas shows – shouldn’t a politically based show leave you with more thought provoking material?

They’ve got the talent – and a good format. My suggestion would be to get off the old political nuts and onto the fresh material that’s crying out to be lampooned.

Suzanne Hawkes


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