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Jonny and the Baptists: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

This may be a triumph of exuberance over material – but it’s a pretty comprehensive victory.

Jonny Donahue’s lively three-piece carouse their way through a boisterous hour of toe-tappin, guitar-twangin, fiddle-playin high jinx with an energy an underpopulated Edinburgh sweat-box frankly doesn’t deserve. But boy, are we thankful for it. They seem to be having so much fun with their spirited numbers that it spreads through the audience like a virus.

Donahue is all smiles, bonhomie and cheery self-deprecation in the between-song banter. He cites a review that compares him to Matt Lucas, mainly in the waistline department, but it’s an appropriate reference point. That jollity permeates his singing, too, which he delivers with power, alongside Paddy Gervers’s lively guitar and Amy Butterworth’s spirited violin, which gives the threesome a folky vibe to set them apart from other musical comedy outfits.

They start with their best song, a vibrant celebration of libraries as places of learning – and shagging. It’s nominally got a political point, but is primarily all about being silly. That’s pretty much the theme for the night, whether it be a plea against Scottish independence, for an end to homophobic discrimination at the blood bank, or (in another witty gem of track) lamenting the passing of the traditional old-fashioned pub.

Upper-Middle Class Gangsta Children exploits a common stand-up trope, but setting it to such upbeat music certainly help. And the show is sporadically educational – one song is sung entirely in French – or surreal, just to keep things interesting.

They are clearly excel at what they do; and as if to show off even more, have committed to writing a new song every day of the Fringe. Though perhaps fatigue has set in as we approach the end, as today’s is very light on lyrics. But in typical style, Donahue mocks their own laziness, and you can only forgive them. Plus the few words he has penned are funny.

With this feisty debut, the talented Jonny And The Baptists have burst on to the Fringe with such a bang that it seems churlish to want them to expand the comic aspects of their writing to offer a little more complexity. Because if you’re looking for a fun time, the Baptists will deliver.

Review date: 26 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Underbelly Cowgate

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