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Gareth Richards: It's Not The End of The World

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Marissa Burgess

As Gareth Richards notes himself, the scenes on English city streets last week suddenly made post-apocalyptic chaos look like a very real concept. It's unfortunate that his subject matter unexpectedly became topical and rooted in the here and now, because much of his material has a delicious otherworldly quality. He is in some ways similar to prince barmpot Paul Foot: he sounds a bit like him and has the same whimsical way of expressing his off-the-wall ideas.

Beginning the show with a butchered recording of the late great Johnny Cash is the first oddity, before he provides us with a little background info, confessing that he comes from Bournemouth where he lives in a bungalow. This is about as conventional as the material gets.

The only point where he indulges in audience interaction is when he speculates, pointing at individuals, whether any of us are terrorists. Elsewhere there's some almost conventional innuendo, but the comedy mainly comes from him pointing out how badly written it is.

Being an end-of-the-world show there's some material about the Mayan prophecy concerning the world ending next year, 'just before Christmas' as his mum slightly disappointedly pointed out to him. A good-sized chunk of the set is taken up with a sweet, if somewhat fictionalised tale about running away to Penzance to find himself discovering instead a job in MacDonald’s, unrequited love and the 1999 solar eclipse.

The narrative results in a nicely circular motif about our need for endings which leaves you with the sneaking suspicion that maybe he does know what he's doing after all. Beneath this quirky exterior are some sharply penned gags.

Richards punctuates the show with songs composed and performed on his omnichord, an Eighties electronic musical instrument that is pre-programmable, with which he performs some technically well-constructed ditties, again invested with that absurd style, especially the first one, about the Co-Op particularly so. Though silly, the second takes the oft-observed unequal relationship between David Cameron and Nick Clegg and invests it with some off beat imagery including carting Mrs Thatcher like an oversized demented baby. We can only wish.

Review date: 18 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Marissa Burgess

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