Jonny and the Baptists almost seem embarrassed to be here. This is our amazing city; our great Comedy festival and it’s a healthy sized crowd for an opening Wednesday night downstairs in the Cookie.
“I hope none of you are right wing“, says Jonny Donahoe early in the set. “We’re all very left wing”, he says laying all cards on the table. The crowd have clearly understood the brief for there’s little heckle or agitation here. As the usual targets are ticked off (the Queen, Farage, Margaret Thatcher, Donald Trump and the nationalisation of swans), we sit back, chuckle and relax.
Typically a two piece, the Impressively bearded Jonny and the bun wearing Paddy Gervers have morphed into a full band tonight. With extra flute, bass, keyboard and horn, their sound moves out of the acoustic and into a fully-formed epic prog. Even when they break into rap nothing seems particularly up to date. “Theresa May is selling the NHS to the Americans”, says Jonny in an attempt to bring us up to speed.
They’re at their best when their politics become personal. Like a moderate Nick Helm, Jonny verges on breakdown as he moans about Robert, a man who has ‘stolen’ his girlfriend. There’s a genuinely funny callback on the subject later in the set as well. When Jonny chats about his niece and impending parenthood (Josie Long is his partner) whilst connecting it with female emancipation, it’s heartfelt and timely given what was achieved a hundred years ago.
As Jonny moans about his tight fitting T-shirt and ties it so that we have sight of his glorious belly, the show moves away from earnest protest and into casual silliness. It’s this ability to nervously flit between middle class concerns (thankfully there’s no mention of quinoa) and more strident stuff (surprisingly, there’s no mention of Corbyn) that keeps us laughing within this political rally.
The converted have been preached to again. We leave the venue happy and satisfied in our comradeship.