Back by popular demand following their hit show ‘The End is Nigh’ last year, comedy act Jonny & the Baptists return on Friday 31 March with their brand new production ‘Eat the Poor’, a riotously funny epic about friendship, inequality and betrayal. Very kindly, the boys agreed to talk to us about the new show and how they are inspired by the manically changing political and social climate. Out of the goodness of their hearts, they also made a special trailer just for the Maltings performance. Watch the video below and scroll down for the interview with the cheeky duo.
For those who might not have seen your previous collaborations, tell us more about your shows.
They’re a bit of everything and hopefully a lot of fun. The shows are a big mixture of songs, comedy politics, theatre, sketches, storytelling and even a bit of blue for the dads. Stewart Lee once said in the Observer that we have the ‘Spirit of 80s alternative comedy’ combined with pop-soul stylings that could win X-Factor. What more could you want than that?!
How did the partnership begin? Where did you meet?
Jonny & the Baptists started when Jonny (then an unsuccessful comedian) and Paddy (then an unsuccessful musician) met at a wedding and bonded by getting drunk and talking about how much they hated weddings. We got together a few weeks later, and bonded some more about being angry with the state of the world in general. After that, it was only natural we’d start writing funny songs together, and it turned out a lot of other people were angry about weddings and politics too – we’ve gone from strength to strength ever since.
Your last show tackled climate change. This time, the show is about the rich and poor divide. What drives you to make material around these ideas and why do you think it works in the format of your show?
For us, each show tends to come out of whatever we’re talking about at the time. Eat The Poor began in 2016, against a background of news about inequality, food banks, homelessness and benefits cuts. We wanted to know more, to think about how the country had got here and what we could do about it. We also knew it had to be funny – but you figure you’ll find the comedy along the way.
How was it premiering the show at Edinburgh last year? Do you like performing in the same space continually or do you prefer touring the show?
Doing a month-long run at the Edinburgh Fringe is a great way to figure out what a show actually is and bed it in so we use the fringe to get new shows right. The goal is always touring though, because we get to see so much of the country, meet new people, stay in unusual places, and use our Two Together Railcard!
Do you find the audiences respond differently to your material depending on where you are performing?
Absolutely – that’s why we always try to travel around when we make the show and get an idea of different people’s response. For this show, we had a week-long residency in Farnham when we were finishing the script, so we feel like we got to know the area and hopefully some of that comes through when we’re back performing at the venue.
Do you change/adapt your material whilst on tour to reflect the ever-changing social/political climate or stick to the original material?
Things are always changing and we try to be topical, which to be honest is a pain in the arse right now and we’re rewriting constantly in rehearsal. If you’ve also tried writing a topical comedy show in the last twelve months, you’ll know the year has given as much as it’s taken away. We’re currently testing a new song about Donald Trump, which may or may not be relevant by the time the tour starts. We’ve got a great ditty about nuclear apocalypse in our back pockets though…
Are there any topics that you haven’t covered yet and want to/may do for future shows?
So many! In fact the hardest thing sometimes is narrowing down what we’ll talk about. We do a whole bit in some of our gigs called ‘Jokes we haven’t had time for’ which are things we think could be a bit of material but haven’t got to yet. Right now the favourite is, ‘If I was God, I’d constantly make miracles happen at Richard Dawkins when he was alone, knowing he’d never tell anyone but it would drive him spare’. Pretty sure we could get a whole show out of that.
Jonny & the Baptists perform in the Tindle Studio on Friday 31 March at 8pm. For more information and to book tickets, please visit the webpage.