Jonathan Pie at Latitude 2018 | Review by Steve Bennett © Stuart Hogben

Jonathan Pie at Latitude 2018

Review by Steve Bennett

It’s testament to the power of Jonathan Pie’s rhetoric that he can get a round of applause from an audience for calling them morons. And when he points out the irony, they only love him more.

But ‘irony’ is often hard to spot in a character who rails against the evil right and sanctimonious left in equal measure, and both with heartfelt sincerity. Much of what he says is centre-left common sense, but energised with fierce invective and a powerful performance. The diatribe sometimes spills into comic exaggeration, sometimes not – and then it’s the level of rage that invigorates the audience, rather than any brilliant punchline.

Possibly the only man at Latitude in a tailored suit, viral video star Pie opens by noting that the turmoil in the Tory party has robbed him of 75 percent of material in the past week. But even so, Tom Walker’s alter ego never looks in any danger of running out of opinions.

The Conservatives are first in the firing line, or at least the people who vote for them, which Pie likens to self-harming - an electorate constantly repeating the same behaviour despite the fact it always ends up hurting them. And his cathartic rant against Donald Trump is an outpouring of unalloyed bile, as you might expect, the sort of thing The Thick Of It used to do so well. 

Such viewpoints bring the liberal crowd on side brilliantly, buying him some credit for when he turns against their precious beliefs, or at least those on the more intolerant end of the leftie spectrum, where the diplomatic aims of political correctness have become a competition to see who can be most offended. He’s not the first comic to demand: ‘What is so wrong with being offended?’ but he makes it such a supporting plank of his vilification of pious witch-hunts and ineffectual virtue-signalling.

His stance is ultimately one of moderation – even if it’s expressed in the most immoderate way. Pie’s attack on the phenomenon of calling people out for ‘mansplaining’, for example, initially seems to come from a reactionary place… but by the end of the routine he winds up a feminist hero. And don’t get him started on the supposed sin of ‘cultural appropriation’. Or rather do, because his splenetically fearsome outpourings are as entertaining as they are, ultimately, quite reasonable.

Review date: 13 Jul 2018
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Latitude

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