Cancelled? It's all pie in the sky as reported by Jonathan Pie, comedian Tom Walker is back out on tour with the satirical news reporter making headlines with Fake News (The Corona Remix)
Jonathan Pie is the online news reporter who, between live broadcasts, says what he really thinks about his subjects, in fact he says what he wants about the world out there.
Described by comedian Rory Bremner as “the most important satirical creation since Partridge”, Pie has amassed more than 1.6 million Facebook followers for his ‘lively’ discussions – with the ‘frustrated news reporter’ having now enjoyed international fame.
The no-holds-barred personality – the creation of actor and comedian Tom Walker – arrived in Lancashire this week and fans can still catch up with him on the rescheduled tour at The Lowry in Salford on October 9.
It was 43-year-old Tom’s first ever visit to the resort to present his all new one-man show Jonathan Pie: Fake News (The Corona Remix) – bringing the fictional broadcaster’s unique insights and rants on UK politics and all topics from Brexit to Lockdown. And also the insight on his very public sacking and early exit from a promising journalism career.
Tom says: “I’m not giving too much away with the show when I say that in this meeting with Jonathan, the audience are greeted with a headline and the news he has been ‘cancelled’.
“He’s been cancelled for an on-air mistake, which is unpleasant and worthy of being sacked. And we learn about what happened, how and why it happened and lockdown has a lot to do with it.
“He has spent the best part of the last year in his spare bedroom. He is a 42-year-old divorcee, estranged from his son and spent lockdown on his own – he has gone mad.
“What’s interesting I think is that we all for a time went into lockdown thinking ‘this is alright, I’m coping okay’ and it’s now only the other side we’re seeing the real damage that was done.
“This has hurt us as a social beings, even for those of us like me who aren’t even really that sociable.
“We learn about Pie’s lockdown has been like, how he lost his job and along the way we have a good laugh at Boris’ expense, a good reminisce of the highs and lows of lockdown and also Pie is not afraid to have a pop at the excesses of ‘woke’ culture.
“He’s a victim of ‘cancel culture’ we talk about that and everything inbetween.
“It’s serious subjects but it is a good laugh – it’s the funniest I’ve written and my favourite to perform yet.”
Due to massive fan demand and a critically acclaimed sell-out UK 2019 live tour under his belt, Tom has re-written and updated the show to bring Jonathan up to date in a new PC (post-Corona) world.
The show is a mash-up of the news agenda in a very real world, and it’s safe to say no side of the political spectrum comes out unscathed, but neither do the general public either as Pie ventures down a path of moral confusion between real life and that we all now live online.
Instagram influencers, Harry and Meghan to parenting to Facebook, nothing escapes his wrath, which is precisely the point; Jonathan presents a little of what everyone or anyone is thinking.
But it is almost by accident and through Tom’s own frustrated career path, Jonathan ever came to be in the spotlight.
Tom explains: “Honestly, after years of being told to write my own work in the end it took being permanently unemployed to make it happen.
“I always wanted to be an actor and nobody would give me a job so it was at that point I decided to write my own stuff and weirdly I felt I had this character in my head.
“The basic premise was ‘what happens to the news reporter the minute the guy says cut’ because I used to sit and watch the news and be there thinking you honestly can’t believe that – you personally as a human being can’t believe what you are saying.
“They’re reading a script and the minute the earpiece comes out it’s like ‘What is this? It’s nonsense you’re asking me to say’.
“It’s just the first few ideas I had and then wrote down happened to be political, outside Westminster. He could have been an entertainment correspondent, he could have been a sports commentator but I know know nothing about sports.
“What happened is when he began to take off it just happened to be the politics that became the hook for people but funnily enough it wasn’t the hook for me, it was this amusing, irate, angry news reporter.
“It took a year for me to fully understand people were coming to it in a way to make sense of the world we find ourselves in and I struggled with that for a time, that sense of responsibility.
“But now I’ve found that happy medium and I love this show, I’ve loved writing it – especially the jokes and I love challenging the audiences politically – this wasn’t something I asked for.
“I’m not a political commentator or campaigner, I’m an actor, a comedian an entertainer. I write things that are exciting and funny to perform.”
Tom was also initially sceptical about taking Jonathan on tour.
“It was a three to four-minute thing, I didn’t know how it could be sustained for an hour. The funny thing is now the show very much has a beginning a middle and an end.
“My promotor, who I wouldn’t be here without today, just said ‘just give it a try’ so I gave a short run in a little studio with 30 to 40 people and after the show he said ‘You’re going to Edinburgh’.
“So I went to Edinburgh and then on tour and that ended in the London Palladium, so it was a baptism of fire really.
“Now I’m very aware that the online stuff, although funny, is very much disposable, it’s in the moment, something that has happened that week. It doesn’t last long.
“You go back through the videos now and you don’t want to re-watch something on Theresa May it was two-and-a-half years ago, it’s just not relevant.
“But the show is universal and has a bit more longevity to it. This is my fourth tour, I learnt quickly it had to be relevant, but you try and make it have that longevity.
“It’s interesting because it’s the last 18 months and it’s what we’ve all been through.
"And we’ve all been through it, so we can all have an opinion and Pie certainly may have a few things to say about it but whatever your opinion, your politics it was a shared lived experience.
"This show in that sense is a lot more accessible, you can connect with him but as ever with Pie you’re going to be challenged.
“So if you’re a lefty there’s going to be things in this show you don’t like and wont agree with but if you’re a Tory or a right winger or a Brexiteer there are things in the show you’re not going to agree with.
"And that’s the point, that’s the point of Pie - that we have to start listening to opinions again that we don’t agree with, without running for the hills because that’s when problems happen.
“When we stop listening to each other and that’s the moral of the story.”
One of Pie’s earliest videos – his response to the election of Donald Trump – was viewed more than 150 million times worldwide.
A more recent clip on the confusion surrounding wearing masks has been viewed over 10.4m times on Facebook.
Tom adds: “The irony in the show is there is this whole section on the internet, the online world and how it was meant to broaden all our horizons but it does the opposite, it in fact makes us more insular.
“We only listen to the music we know we already like, you only watch the same TV, we discover nothing. But perhaps more dangerous if someone expresses an opinion you fundamentally disagree with, there is an assumption not that they’re wrong but they’re a bigot.
“It’s not helpful.
“News and opinion are today given the same weight. ‘Here is a scientific fact. Now lets go to Jeff in Scunthorpe and hear what he thinks about the fact’. It doesn’t matter.
“Of course there is always room for discussion but this ‘post truth’ world the shouting on Twitter, it doesn’t matter, stop thinking that people care and it’s funny how Pie really captures that.”
Tickets are still available for The Lowry at Salford on October 9, priced £31. Visit https://www.jonathanpie.com/