Dom Joly: It takes real custard to offend a billionaire

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Watching the slightly disappointing proceedings in the Select Committee on Tuesday, I found myself with the curious sensation of feeling sorry for the billionaire Rupert Murdoch. Like everyone else, I was expecting some gnashing monster snarling at everyone and mentally noting who to have killed when proceedings were over.

As everyone moved in for the kill, however, he appeared rather phased and confused by life. It's not surprising, as everyone has now jumped on the Get Murdoch bandwagon. It's a bit like living under Colonel Gaddafi – you spend years keeping your head down for fear of it getting shot off, but once you've plucked up the courage to say, "I hate Gaddafi" there's no way back. You have to kill him off or you're toast.

This was very much what was happening in Parliament, with everyone suddenly finding their brave voice now the mob was circled around the victim. And then came Jonnie Marbles. Screwing up his move spectacularly by choosing to pie Murdoch at the moment when an MP (the wife of Metallica's manager to make things weirder) was asking a question (obviously Murdoch would not be on screen, duh!), he attempted to place a paper plate bedecked with shaving foam all over Rupert's face.

One of my heroes is a Belgian called Noel Godin. He started an anarchist group called les Entarteurs, whose main purpose in life was to custard pie public figures that he felt had grown too pompous. They would do this in a distinctly Belgian manner. First, they would meet up in a bar and sing Belgian anarchist songs before converging on their target in great numbers (he calls these tempêtes patissières – pastry storms), on the basis that this way one of them would get through. Someone nearly always did. The aim was to be funny and silly in battle, and the entarteurs would all chant "Gloup, gloup, gloup" while in action.

There has always been something gloriously bonkers about Godin and, sadly, this is what seemed to be lacking from Jonnie Marbles's assault on Murdoch. Godin would have somehow made the whole thing ludicrous, surreal and joyful. Marbles just looked like a worthy muppet. Even shouting "You're a very naughty billionaire" was strangely cringeworthy, like a line from a Carry On film.

Godin firmly believed that there is no better way to judge a man's character than by how he reacts when he is custard-pied. The French philosopher and socialite Bernard-Henri Lévy always reacted particularly badly, and so Godin carried out several repeat attacks.

Even though this was not a custard pie, but just shaving foam – and Godin is very Belgian in his beliefs that it has to be custard – Rupert Murdoch could be seen to have behaved very well. James Murdoch stood up and looked like a spare part, which is increasingly what he appears to be. The most impressive of course, was Wendi Deng, Murdoch's wife.

On BBC 5 Live, Marbles announced that there would be no need for a security review in the House of Commons as he had "prepared very carefully" the way he smuggled in his foam and paper plate. Oh, that's OK then, because terrorism is very much an impulse thought. No planning required. Just buy a bomb on a whim, pop into the House of Commons and boom – pie in the sky.



Dom performs in Cheltenham tonight, Brighton tomorrow, Huddersfield (Tue), London (Wed), Norwich (Thurs and Fri), and Cambridge (Sat)

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