Jonny and The Baptists prepare for the end at The Spring Arts Centre
There can't be too many comedy shows that have their origins in making a four-year-old girl cry.
Musical comedy duo Jonny and The Baptists (Jonny Donahoe and Paddy Gervers) are touring their new show, The End is Nigh, which as Jonny explains ‘is ostensibly about climate change’.
He adds: ‘Last year, when I was babysitting my niece, who’s four years old, I accidentally, during a very stressed moment, told her that the world was going to end.
‘To stop her crying, I told her that I was going to fix it.
‘So this is the story of that. We go around the country and the world, looking at climate change and ways to solve it as a problem – we want to leave a world for the next generation to live in.’
How is that mission to save the world coming on?
‘I would say we’re not quite there. We’re doing ok...
‘It’s an ongoing process.’
Faced with the enormity of the task at hand, they decided to look at the small things individuals can do.
‘It’s real small scale stuff, trying to be more energy-conscious and save where you can. The moment you start looking at it on a global scale, it becomes so enormous it’s hard to deal with.
‘We wanted to look at it in a smaller and more personal way.’
In the past the pair have been quite political – their 2014 tour Stop UKIP saw them receive death-threats from the party’s supporters.
‘We had a lot of fun with that,’ notes Jonny, ‘but they didn’t see the funny side.’
This show’s stance that climate change is undoubtedly happening could in itself be seen as a political stance.
But as Jonny says: ‘I’m not a scientist, but it’s very clear that all the scientists who aren’t in the pocket of Republican senators and oil companies think it’s real. The world’s getting hotter and we’re in real trouble.’
‘One of the things I find really interesting at the moment is the 5p tax on the plastic bags. I’m 32 now and for as long as I’ve been shopping we’ve been aware that they’re a bad thing, but it didn’t stop me from picking them up at Tesco because we’re lazy.
‘Humans are very short-term thinkers. We can’t help it. We want to make the world a better place and be better people, but there’s other things to do and you can’t get past that.
‘The 5p tax is so small it’s tiny, it’s almost irrelevant, but it’s enough to make me never get a bag from the supermarket.
‘The job of government is to set up rules that make the world a better place, and the 5p tax is a really good example of that.’
But with such a pessimistic title, isn’t it all a bit depressing for, well, a comedy show?
‘The show isn’t exactly about farting in the bath, much as that would be a joy. We do always talk about very serious topics in our shows, but there’s something very British about laughing in the face of the most difficult things, and I think that’s why satire has always been so prevalent here.
‘We’re not a crazily anarchic country, but we do deal with serious things by laughing at them.
‘Hopefully it’ll be a useful tool for making you want to live a better life, but beyond that it’s just very funny how ridiculous we are and how badly we handle most situations in life.’
The Spring Arts Centre, Havant
Saturday, April 9