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Jon Richardson: Don't Happy Be Worry

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

In the spirit of Jon Richardson’s show, I have started to worry. Worry about his state of mind.

He’s long fostered a bleak outlook, hating humanity en masse and believing that optimists are simply deluding themselves. He started to realise this might not be the healthiest way to live his life when he suddenly flipped on the Swindon North Circular in the early hours one morning, finding himself physically spitting at a traffic light that had the temerity to change to red as he approached.

The thinking behind this show isn’t always entirely clear. He gets comic mileage out of being the viciously grumpy young man, and insists his anger isn’t just for comic effect. Yet when he talks about those who grasp life’s pleasures, such as the old people dancing like no one is watching – even though he is both watching and laughing at them – you feel he has a sort of grudging, slightly jealous admiration for such carefree attitudes.

What we are then left with is a series of routines, not always from quite the same point of view, in search of a consistent thread. Some of these sections are a delight, such as his dark discussion of the best way to chop enemies’ fingers off as a warning or his simple but effective deconstruction of the Bobby McFerrin lyrics that inspired his title. Others are a little less assured, such as his predictable sneering at the idea of ‘sex addiction’ that so many other comics have mocked.

His cheeky delivery is as winning as ever, with a strong sense of self-mockery, especially when it comes to the strong regional accents he gives every character in his monologue, just for the hell of it. Somehow he makes a heroin junkie sound like Alan Bennett.

But the show ultimately feels unsubstantial; and though I’d like to be optimistic that he has the talent to eventually fix it, that hardly seems in the spirit of proceedings.

Review date: 13 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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