Jonathan Pie review – Glastonbury Festival 2024

Jonathan Pie during a previous Glastonbury Festival performance. Photo: Charles Gervais, Both Hemispheres Photography.

The best seats in the Astrolabe Theatre have been claimed by people who queued outside for Jonathan Pie’s set before the tent had even opened its doors for the beginning of the day’s schedule. And it’s standing room only on either side of the raked seating area, the crowd spilling out of the tent. I can see the heads outside the open tent door bopping from side to side during the set trying to get a good look at Pie.

He dances his way on stage – much better than Teresa May’s attempts to do the same – and suggests he’s practising for what could be his big break: Strictly Come Dancing is potentially knocking on his door. In the meantime, he’s here to give us a lecture which, in his opinion, gets the faux reporter around the BBC’s impartiality rules – so long as he doesn’t tell us which party to vote for.

For those who don’t know the premise, the source of Pie’s fame is the online clips where he posed as a reporter who delivers his real thoughts having just finished a news piece to camera. The short videos often go viral with titles like ‘newsreader caught saying what he really thinks.’

In his live show, Pie again tells us what he really thinks – only over a much longer period. Pie’s schtick is to angrily vent to the audience about the Tories and, very occasionally, things that are Tory-adjacent.

‘It really is just 45 minutes of this’ he tells a woman in the front row near the beginning. That period of time is s challenge for Pie’s character because someone spending three-quarters of an hour angrily venting their spleen about the Conservative Party’s failures over and over becomes draining. And, to be honest, it’s rarely actually funny.

He spends significant portions essentially name-calling – this Tory is a cockroach and that Tory is a lizard and Teresa May is a bag of sand and so on and so and so. They’re all ‘bastards’ or ‘cunts’ or both – and the audience cheer and whoop at these putdowns. Justifying all of this, Pie says it’s OK to call the Tories cockroaches because that’s the language they use about immigrants with terms like ‘swarms.’ Talk about fighting in the gutter.

What it all amounts to, as the roars of approval echo around the Astrolabe at Pie’s newest insult to Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, is a form of collective scream therapy. 

Jonathan Pie performed in the Astrolabe Theatre at Glastonbury Festival 2024, running from 26 to 30 June

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