JONATHAN PIE: THE FAKE NEWS TOUR

A few years ago, Jonathan Pie racked up over one hundred million views with a profanity-laced tirade about a certain someone getting elected President of the United States. The general gist of this rant was not that he was annoyed at Trump’s victory, it was his white-hot visceral rage at the other side for becoming what they’d become – elitist, aloof, unwilling to engage with people holding opposing views or ideals. Of course, being a lefty he was also rather unimpressed with the President-elect, but it was more a case of how could they have let this happen? Four years on, not much has changed.

His latest tour is on the back of his fictional firing by the BBC – Pie is in fact played by comedian & actor Tom Walker, with occasional help from Andrew Doyle – for making a pretty reprehensible statement that he freely admits he really shouldn’t have done, or at least made sure the camera wasn’t still transmitting. As far as excuses for swanning about Australia in the middle of summer go, it’s a pretty good one. Bit of a working holiday; enjoying the sunshine, getting up on stage for a handful of nights, and giving the people what they want – dick jokes, tearing shreds off of Tories, big-‘L’ Liberals, small-L liberals, Labor, Labour, Republicans, Democrats, and some blunt opinions about cancel culture, the professionally offended, and of course, wantonly attacking just about everything else, especially Twitter. By god he hates Twitter.

Pie maintains that the media, specifically the 24-hour news cycle that was normalised post-9/11 and fuelled by instantaneously published ‘opinions’ on Twitter, has accelerated the moral decay of political discussion to the point that now almost immediately in any situation a vast majority of people have adopted the ‘Brexit Face’ – where they just glaze over and stop listening, waiting only for the other person to stop talking. Kicking off with the origins of Brexit, the lecture – not a stand-up routine, he’s at pains to explain – gradually morphs into a diatribe where he questions how we’ve gotten to this point; climate change, crackpot world leaders, divisiveness, and identity politics.

Having previously admitted that Pie was a manner in which to vent when Walker was struggling for acting jobs, the character has become a version of The Thick of It Malcolm Tucker, if Tucker was secretly a bleeding-heart lefty who could accept that reducing his carbon footprint and being a bit more open-minded about things could actually be beneficial. Happily swinging a rather precise axe at everything he deems a worthy target, The Fake News Tour is equal parts Pie’s/Walker’s utter despair at the current state of affairs and his bright hope for the future.

4 / 5 stars


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Jonathan Pie – The Fake News Tour was on for one night only at the Royalty Theatre.

Interview: Tom Walker / Jonathan Pie

“No, no, no, absolutely not.” Tom Walker’s just broken my heart. I’ve put to him that he could consider taking his character Jonathan Pie to Westminster, or maybe even Number 10. Personally, I think he’d be better suited to Canberra, where he could potentially form a heavyweight tag-team of Australian politics with Penny Wong. “No, I’ve got this tour, and that wraps up in a few months, and then the diary is free.” Right in time for the 2020 US Elections, I tell him. “Oh god yeah, you’re right.”

Thing is though, he’s a bit sick of the constant supply of box office gold that keeps getting served up. “I’d really like it to level off a bit now. I’ve had my fun. When I started out the world wasn’t so strange and now we’ve got Trump and Brexit, and it’s time to swing back towards a bit of normality, you’d hope. Trump sort of set the standard where he can now seemingly get away with anything and everyone looks at him and tries to emulate him. It’s worked, our politics is now full of lies, it’s madness, isn’t it? And it’s really difficult to satirise Trump, he does it for you! All you have to do is read out his tweets, he can’t even spell!” Walker sounds resigned when he glumly predicts another term for Trump, but at least the source material will still be top shelf.

One thing that he’s loving is ‘Scotty from Marketing’. “It’s such a great insult. It’s so to the point, isn’t it? It’s great.” Allegedly Morrison utterly detests this nickname. “Good! I’m glad.” The topic of politicians giving themselves nicknames irks him, though. “It’s mad, isn’t it, we’ve got BoJo, but we’ve always just called him Boris, instead of Mr. Johnson, and it makes him seem friendly, and nice, when he’s far from it. I mean, Boris is a prick, isn’t he? He’s this bumbling bloody affable idiot, when he’s anything but. He’s a dangerous right-wing populist.”

Walker as Pie doesn’t mince words, he’s quite happy to make sure everyone knows about the elephant failing to wear a lampshade in the corner – regardless of whether the elephant is left or right, liberal or conservative – and so the degree of separation between him and Pie is welcome. “It’s quite nice to have that. The majority of people come up to me and say, ‘Hey Jonathan!’ it’s absolutely fine, I quite like it. I find it a bit weird when people go ‘Hey Tom’, like, how do you know my name?” plus it gives him a bit of freedom, he’s always got that ‘it’s not me, it’s Jonathan – he’s a character’ get-out-of-jail-free card, but you can tell that he knows his words carry some weight; 600,000 subscribers on YouTube, over 67 million views, a few live tours, but everything has a shelf life. He admits he’s yet to make that solid jump to mainstream though, and so Pie might be taking a sabbatical. In a field where making it to prime-time is pretty rare, a self-described underdog punching above his weight deserves a title fight.

 


Words by Mikey Della Porta

Jonathan Pie: The Fake News Tour, February 24th at the Royalty Theatre, Angas Street

For more information and to book tickets, click here