Jonathan Pie, the frustrated news reporter whose videos have been seen across the world, is currently on his second major national tour, with his brand new live show Jonathan Pie: Back To The Studio. Here, Tom Walker, the man behind Jonathan Pie discusses what the audiences across the UK can expect from the show…
Who is Jonathan Pie?
Jonathan Pie is a frustrated News reporter. He’s frustrated with his job. He’s frustrated with the state of news media and mainly he’s angry at the state of politics. He’s pretty good at his job but the moment the cameras stop rolling he can’t help but rant about the state of the world…and he is quite fond of what some might call ‘colourful’ language.
How did the character first come about?
I had been an actor for 15 years and had been out of work for most it. I was very frustrated myself and I felt I needed to do something to keep me sane. I’d had this character in my head for a few years but had never done anything with it. I just wondered what real news reporters do when the camera stops rolling. The politics was secondary at the start. Now it’s front and centre of almost everything I do.
What can everyone expect from the Jonathan Pie: Back to the Studio tour?
A good laugh I hope. What’s great about a live show is you have much more time to explore ideas. So, it’s great to play with the audience’s expectations. It’d be too easy to stand there for an hour and hurl insults at Trump or the Tories. Trust me I’ll being doing a lot of that but I also like to challenge the audience. Hold a mirror up to them and show that us lefties don’t always get it right either.
Why do you think your style of political satire has become so popular?
Well to the younger generation Pie’s brand of angry political satire seems new and original. But if you go back to the Thatcher years this sort of thing was mainstream which is why the older generations really get it and love it also. So, to some its brand new and original and to others it’s old and familiar. Like an old blanket.
Is it difficult to find new ways to tackle the same political subject matter in a comedic way – Brexit, Trump, General Elections etc?
Yes. Writing a live show is in some ways easier because you have time to hone things and to play with ways to make it appear bang up to date. On my weekly videos it is a constant struggle to work out what to write about and find ways to keep it fresh.
What are you most looking forward to on tour?
Nice, un-heckly, smart audiences? For me the main excitement of being on tour is the opportunity to check out the many joys that regional out of town Travelodge’s have to offer.
You now have over a million likes on Facebook. At what stage did you notice your social following significantly increase?
One random October day in 2015 one of my videos went viral and this has been my job ever since. It was literally over night. The video I did after Trump was elected has been viewed over 150 million times which certainly gave my numbers a bump. And more recently the election solidified my following with several videos going viral.
You are famed for those social media videos. How do you go about transforming those three minute clips into an hour long live show?
How to write a Pie Live script: Firstly, you have to work out why Pie would be in a theatre talking to 1000 people. You then have to find a way to explain who he is for people who have been dragged there and have no context as to who this person is. You then have to write some jokes and most importantly for Pie, you have to have something to say. You want people to go to the pub after and talk politics and dissect the show. You want every audience member to have had their world view challenged in some way. You then litter the script with some inventive swearing.
Do you have to change how you write for the character when writing for a live show?
Not so much change how I write for the character – but a live hour-long monologue has to be much more authored and nuanced than a 3-minute monologue. So, it’s a different kind of writing.
Apart from the tour, what does the immediate future hold for Jonathan Pie?
Well, it’d be nice to see him on the telly.
Are there any venues you are particularly excited to visit?
Hammersmith Apollo is obviously a big deal for any performer. And The Lowry will be great. Pie has played their studio space, then the smaller theatre. And now he’s made the main auditorium – which is really cool.
Jonathan Pie: Back to the Studio is will be touring the UK until March 31st 2018.