Jonathan Pie: Heroes And Villains | Review of the angry political commentator back on the rampage
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Jonathan Pie: Heroes And Villains

Review of the angry political commentator back on the rampage

The current backstory of fake journalist Jonathan Pie is that he’s back on the Westminster beat for the BBC, making viral videos saying what he really thinks between on-air dispatches from College Green, as well as having his own Radio 4 phone-in.

On the national broadcaster, impartiality is key – although that assertion gets a mocking laugh when Pie says it on stage – and he’s supposed to maintain that same lack of bias in speaking engagements such as this.

It’s fair to say he fails. While this stand-up show is officially called Heroes ​and Villains, a more accurate title would be All Tories Are Cunts. It’s a vicious 70-minute invective against the charlatans of the ruling party, as angrily passionate a diatribe as fans of Tom Walker’s permanently furious alter-ego have come to expect.

Applause breaks greet almost every raw rant, even in this die-hard Tory heartland of Guildford. He even gets the Home Counties faithful to cheer for the violent overthrow of the Monarchy. If only Keir Starmer had one ember of the fire that rages in Pie’s belly, he could lead a revolution.

Walker performs in front of a rogues’ gallery of recent Cabinet members - a graphic which elicits a panto-style ‘boo’ when unveiled. He highlights some of the worst of their number, each being subjected to a wickedly offensive string of insults, delivered with pure venom. Though for all his flamboyantly descriptive ad hominem revilement, Walker has his Dad to thank for possibly the best line of the night, perfectly describing Denis Thatcher.

Thirteen years of more recent Tory chaos has given him quite a lot to get through – which means jokes about Kwasi Kwarteng or Nadhim Zahawi probably don’t pop like the might once have. These figures seem like old news as the express train of Tory incompetence and greed has thrown up new targets. But it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of their awfulness.

Although base abuse is Pie’s comic superpower, there’s an intelligence behind it, too, as Walker cuts through the political noise to make some compelling arguments. Prime among them is that Rishi Sunak and his dodgy lieutenants remain hedge fund managers at heart, asset-stripping UK plc for the benefit of their already mega-wealthy chums is an image that endures.

Nominally a lecture on persuading disenfranchised young men to engage in politics, rather than be seduced by toxic forces like Laurence Fox or Andrew Tate, Heroes ​And Villains also feature a sideline about the media storms around Phillip Schofield and Huw Edwards.

The message is that those in the public gaze must to own their narrative and tell their story first, so it can’t be used to shame them. To which end, Pie confesses to his own lapses in judgement, from the well-documented flirtation with Russia Today to more intimate kinks.

Ultimately, he accepts his stance might be ‘hypocritical champagne ​socialist wank’ – but at least he’s trying (sometimes). And you can’t fault the sheer amount of effort and energy he puts into his superpowered performance.

» Jonathan Pie: Heroes and Villains tour dates

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Review date: 2 Feb 2024
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Guildford G Live

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