Jon Richardson: Dogmatic
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2008
Co-host of BBC 6Music’s The Russell Howard Show; if.comedy best newcomer nominee 2007; Chortle award winner 2008 Breakthrough Act
I’d better be careful what I write here, as Jon Richardson clearly takes his reviews to heart. Most of Dogmatic seems dedicated to dispelling the charge that he’s a grumpy misanthrope – a conclusion to which many critics, myself included, leapt after seeing last year’s newcomer-nominated show.
This year, he takes great pains to insist he’s actually an idealist, and if he sometimes demonstrates intolerance, it’s only intolerance for the sort of unacceptable behaviour that makes society that little bit less civilised. If so many people happen to exhibit that behaviour that it makes him look like a ‘mardy dick’, well, that can’t be his look-out.
No, dogmatic is what he is. Strongly opinionated and not open to rational argument. He might enjoy starting debates, but he sure as hell doesn’t like losing them. So he’s in his element on stage, where he has the one-sided power to express his point of view.
But Richardson isn’t full of strident political views – a woman sniffling on the train seat next to him is one of the biggest injustices he wants to draw attention to – rather, he simply retells real-life incidents that have irked him and he practises weak, petty revenge on the transgressors.
He tell the tales with effortless simplicity, as if they are unfiltered, unembellished accounts that just happen to have their funny moments, rather than something he’s crafted. It’s this apparent naturalness, no matter how much his legs are paddling below the water, that makes Richardson so appealing.
A couple of extended anecdotes comprise much of the set: the low-down petty crooks who stole his windscreen wipers from a deserted car-park, and the fight he got ‘involved’ with in the most cowardly manner. In each case the target is supposedly the thieves and the thugs – though he comes out of both rather unflatteringly, too, even if he is in the right.
Ultimately, the show isn’t as lofty as Richardson seems to want it to be. But for a series of only marginally unusual true-life tales, loosely linked by ineffectual whinging at modern Britain’s ills, they are surprisingly effective. And he has got a point about bad behaviour…
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett