Jon RIchardson: Old Man | Gig review by Steve Bennett at Leicester Comedy Festival at the Alban Arena, St Albans

Jon RIchardson: Old Man

Gig review by Steve Bennett at Leicester Comedy Festival at the Alban Arena, St Albans

Since his last tour, Jon Richardson has become a husband and a father, putting his 'carefree days' behind him.

Not that this most uptight of performers could ever be described as 'carefree'; his compulsive neatness and innate timidity not just aspects of his well-defined comic persona, but also anathema for spontaneous living. 

He's the sort of man who has a favourite petrol pump, in true Alan Partridge manner, and gets to deploy the word 'tessellation' - definitely under-used in comedy – when berating his wife (fellow comic Lucy Beaumont) over her sub-par dishwasher packing.

Old Man, of course, reflects Richardson's fogeyish tendencies and inability to relax, glorious in self-deprecation. In a brilliant riposte to appreciative tweets from fans, he grumbles: 'I don't like myself, so if you like me, I don't respect you.'

But while he has this inferiority complex on one level, on another he's a despot who insists that his risk-averse way of life is the right one. The cardigan-clad comic furious angry when the universe doesn't fit his exacting standards, but he's so meek as to be impotent – and that makes him comically petty. 'I'm always looking for an excuse to hate the world,' he confesses. And he aways finds one, too.

But there is also a wider observational comedy that many a beta male will relate too: there's no 'lads, lads, lads' banter here, it's more about the shame and embarrassment of everyday exchanges like getting a haircut.

Much of this is general – and amusing – griping, but sometimes the entertaining grumbles yield to routines that look away from his daily life, too. The picture he draws of Liam Neeson en route to eke his brutal retribution, for instance, is hilarious in its contrast from the high-drama of the Taken movies.

And for all that Richardson in steeped in mundanity, some of the uglier topics – from a monster shit in McDonald's to the application of cream to his wife's perineum to ease childbirth – have elements of gross-out humour. 

In his last tour, Nidiot, Richardson spoke about his discomfort at finding happiness creeping into his life. Here the focus is back on the stresses  that cause him to break out in anxiety-induced shingles. Not least of which was Richardson Jr being born ten days late – certainly not a chip off the very punctual old block. 

But despite the efforts of fatherhood, he still finds plenty of time to indulge in herculean efforts of small-mindedness, such as pre-empting hecklers by using the tricks of the stage psychics to research his audience's lives online before they even get to the theatre.

On stage is perhaps the only time when not everything has to be 'just so'. There's a little looseness to his chat that gives the energy an ebb to counter the flow of the punchier routines. But often in relaxing he only reveals more fretfulness, obsessing about irrelevant in-the-moment details such as whether he's standing in symmetry with the mic stand and the table.

Such over-thinking certainly gives his material a distinctive edge, while the painful self-awareness gives it an endearing package. This old man's still got some fight in him yet.

Review date: 27 Mar 2017
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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