Five Minutes With... JONNY & THE BAPTISTS

Jonny & The Baptists (Jonny Donahue and Paddy Gervers), are one of the most popular musical comedy acts on the circuit. They have won fans up and down the UK performing at festivals from Latitude to Greenbelt and received rave reviews at the Edinburgh festival, where they received a Chortle Comedy Award for Best Music and Variety Act. Jonny & The Baptists will be at Theatr Clwyd’s outdoor festival stage on Friday, July 16, with their show Dance Like it Never Happened.

Tell us a little bit about the show, how did it come about?

It's a bit of a weird, almost premonition-like show to be honest.

We began writing Dance Like It Never Happened towards the end of 2019 as a show about collective grief and dealing with trauma - particularly in reference to 2019 being an appallingly awful year for us both personally and as a society.

We lost another election, we left Europe, and we lost people we loved very dearly.

It has become a show about finding light in the dark and finally looking the monster in the eyes.

We're very proud of it and it's been a long time coming for both of us to write something like this.

You’ll be performing at Clwyd on the outdoor festival stage. What are the best bits about performing outdoors? Any extra challenges?!

Especially now, there is a levity to being outdoors surrounded by others. As long as it isn't raining or there's some kind of natural disaster.

Having said that, around six years ago we did a song at an outdoor festival about God and the blazing sunshine immediately turned into a downpour of biblical proportions. I can't promise we won't do the same this time.

I think if we're all a bit distanced with pints in our hands and the wind on our cheeks, it's going to be rather beautiful.

Assuming there's a PA system. There is a PA system...right?

How were your lockdowns? Any new discoveries, take up a new hobby?

We're not going to lie to you - and we don't use this word lightly - it was ropey.

Surely not surprising to anyone whatsoever, our health absolutely tanked. Jonny more physically (catching covid early and being stricken with long covid for the thick end of a year) and Paddy more mentally (a far more traditional cabin-fever induced state of mental collapse).

It hasn't been kind, but none of us thought it would! I think a lot of that is going to be reflected in the show - equally in terms of pain, relief, a little mania, and ideas that usually wouldn't make it past the "how about this?" stage of writing!

And what about gigging?

Well, we lost our tours and this is now the fourth full rebooking of what was originally posed to be over 50 dates.

As a result, we took our show, Love You & Hate Bastards, online, livestreaming full shows to the audiences of whichever theatre we were originally meant to be on that night.

We took over the basement of a derelict pub, turned it into a makeshift live studio with cameras and mics and the whole shebang, and did our best.

The comments from people stuck at home having a blast on their sofas really lifted our spirits and I can't deny there were moments it felt really magical (Christmas day being a particular highlight).

Negatives are largely we just missed that kinetic audience relationship that you can only really get live and in person.

We're a little scared about being in front of a crowd again, but I'm sure it won't take long to harness that adrenaline and joy again!

Tell us your favourite best gig and favourite worst gig.

I think our favourite best gig was performing a show at the Paines Plough Roundabout, when it was sat in Summerhall at the Edinburgh Festival in 2017.

We'd been to Edinburgh with a new show every year for five straight years and decided to take the year off, but we were convinced to come and do a week's run of a retrospective show of our favourite songs from the last five years.

I don't know what it was but everything just went perfectly, even the mistakes were getting big, big laughs.

We hate being self-indulgent, but it was great celebrating everything we'd done up to that point and just enjoying ourselves.

Favourite worst gig? We were on tour in 2015, and Jonny was feeling really ill, and complaining a lot.

Paddy and Misha (our tour manager at the time) were trying to be very considerate, but he really was moaning about his headaches and light and sound sensitivity.

Anyway, it all came to a head just before a gig in the west country (we won't name the venue) when the doctor told Jonny he had viral meningitis.

It was just before we were meant to walk out onstage. "Make sure to avoid bright lights and loud noises" the doctor said over the phone.

The show went ahead. About half an hour in Paddy decided to call an early interval as Jonny was no longer speaking a version of English anyone could follow.

Misha pulled the show and the next few and Jonny went and hallucinated in bed for the next two nights.

We've not been asked back to that venue.

Jonny & The Baptists will be playing Theatr Clwyd’s festival stage with Dance Like It Never Happened on Friday, July 16 at 7pm, tickets are from £10. Booking available at or by calling 01352 344101.