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Jonny and the Baptists bring the house down with music and stand-up
Stars of the Edinburgh Fringe bring their laughs to Oxford
Jonny Donahoe and Paddy Gervers have just returned triumphant from a storming few weeks in the world’s comedy capital. Their Jonny &The Baptists show Bigger Than Judas was so successful it was taken on to London and is now touring the country, selling out everywhere it lands.
Gathering fans on the way, Stewart Lee even invited the boys to take part in Comedy Central he was so impressed. “That was a highlight,” Jonny agrees, “but we were also voted one of the Top 10 shows at The Fringe, and nominated for a Fringe Award, so it was great.”
Next up is the Burton Taylor Studio, but it hasn’t always been this glamorous, and it wasn’t until Jonny and Paddy pooled their resources as a stand-up and musician respectively, that their luck began to change.
“We met at my brothers wedding a few years ago,” Paddy tells me, “and as we’re not comfortable dancers we got drinking and chatting.” Jonny continues: “We had a healthy interest in what the other one did and both put our cards on the table as neither of us had much going on at the time.”
Joining forces changed everything and the pair immediately moved up to London together and started gigging straight away: “There were only a couple of tricky months but if you get a gig and they like you, they tend to book a string more,” Paddy explains.
Now in constant demand, as well as Radio 4 work, things are looking rosy, but these Oxford lads do look back on their humble beginnings and laugh. “We headlined in Croatia at the very start which was funny because no one could understand a word we said, and then Norwich booked us for a folk festival thinking we were a folk act so we didn’t got down very well there either,” Jonny remembers.
Now so successful it hurts, it seems a shame the pair didn’t meet earlier, especially as both attended Abingdon School and hung out in Oxford for years, Paddy hailing from Carterton and Jonny living on the Abingdon Road near the Mediterranean Fish Bar.
“Oxford is my adopted home,” Jonny says. “It’s where I misspent my youth, so it’s great to be coming back for a gig.”
So what’s the key to their work? “The trouble with most musical comedy is that usually one genre suffers for the other. We think both hold up in our show so the music has to be good enough to listen to alone, ditto the stand-up” Jonny says.
As for the future, the pair have got their hearts set on appearing at The Playhouse next time around. “We would love to come back with a gig at the Oxford Playhouse, and appear in the main house. Because although TV would be great, it’s the live work that gets you going. Either way, this is what I want to be doing when I wake up in the morning and it’s a gift doing a job you love.”
The Jonny and The Baptists show tomorrow night at the BT Studio has sold out.
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