Jon Richardson: Funny Magnet

DVD review by Steve Bennett

At the end of this, his first DVD, Jon Richardson imagines a disgruntled punter leaving the theatre, complaining: ‘He ain’t got jokes, he’s just moaning about things he hates or takes too seriously.’

There is more than a grain of truth in that. That the meticulous Richardson likes everything ‘just so’ is the defining character of his stand-up, and this is an hour or so of him complaining about what gets his goat – from the small things, to the even smaller ones.

He is not driven by a grand, righteous rage, like Rhod Gilbert, but is more fiddly and pedantic. Part of the joke is on him for not being able to let things go; while at other times you can share his infuriation at the niggles, even if you might not condone the way he expresses it.

Richardson is trying to cope with having housemates for the first time ever. So when they do not follow protocol for the recycling of a cereal box, he could write them a snotty note but instead bites his tongue... only to save his frustration for his audience, giving them a long, punctilious description of how the trash should properly have been dealt with.

Brevity is not the soul of Richardson’s neurotic wit, and routines to tend to go on in depth, as he picks apart anything from Masterchef to parenthood, all with the most judgmental attitude. Some of this does, indeed, come across as ‘just moaning’ – and there’s not a lot of light and shade in his single-mindedly joyless approach. His funny misanthropy might be a nice contrast to panel-show chumminess, but 75 minutes solid can prove a bit one-note.

Yet his personality traits also means he can get to the crux of his complains with a sharp, forensic eye – and also find some obscure topics to obsess about, that most people (let alone most comedians) would never give a second thought to. It ensures you won’t find a hack topic on this DVD. Plus his pessimistic response to love, life and relationship is often expressed with witty language and vivid imagery. Witness, for example, him asserting that people only watch TV so they’re not drinking in the dark. Perhaps the same is true of stand-up DVD releases.

Published: 20 Nov 2012

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