Bad Mood Rising: Jon Richardson at this years @BathComedyFest
Jon Richardson has become a familiar face on our TV screens. He is a regular Have I Got News For You panellist, star of Live At The Apollo, team member of Channel 4’s Stand Up For The Week, team captain of Channel 4’s long-running series 8 Out Of 10 Cats and team Captain on the words and numbers game, 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. His fi rst solo Edinburgh show about his obsessive compulsive personality disorder was nominated for the Best Newcomer award at the 2007 Edinburgh Festival and he has rarely been off our screens for the ensuing decade. Here, Jon talks about his ‘Old Man’ tour and how being a new father has really given him something to stress about. You can see Jon’s show at this years Bath Comedy Festival.
The stand-up Jon Richardson is chatting to me from a rather unusual location. He reveals that, “I’m currently in the Aldi car park in Clevedon.” Who said that the life of a comedian isn’t non-stop glamour?
Still, Jon admits that being on a nationwide tour in places such as Clevedon with his brilliant new show, “Old Man”, is a blessed relief from his full-on domestic life. He is a very proud father – but things have been understandably frantic at home.
Jon, one of the fi nest stand-ups in the land, laughs that, “Gigs have become very cathartic for me, as things are so hectic at home. Gigs are now the equivalent of going to the pub or the cinema!
“Our baby is only just over a year old, so it’s obviously the perfect time for me to be leaving home for several weeks! It has to be said, I’m not terribly popular at home. But I’m assuming that by the time I get back home, my daughter will be toilet-trained, capable of dressing herself and able to drive!”
The new show is packed with such terrifi c refl ections on the trials and tribulations of fatherhood. Jon discloses some of the more bizarre incidents that have occurred since he has become a father. For instance, he recalls that, “At one point, we were driving along the motorway when my wife needed to breastfeed.
“So we got off the motorway and drove down to the end of what we thought was a deserted lane. But as we reached the end, I began to think that there were more cars than there should be at 9 o’clock on a Tuesday evening. It turned out it was a local dogging site. We got a fair bit of attention…”
In the show, Jon will also be explaining that the arrival of his baby daughter has affected him in many unexpected ways. “Suddenly, global events take on more significance.
“When you’re single, you’re not beholden to anyone and you can shut down more easily. In the past, I had the idea that I’d live in a caravan with a dog near a pub with no responsibilities. But now when bad things happen in the world, I feel responsible for them because they’re going to impact on my daughter. The caravan, the dog and the pub have gone now!”
One of Jon’s main worries is that his daughter will grow up resembling him. “What I’m dreading is raising her to be like me. If I hear her saying, ‘I can’t eat that chip because it’s touched those baked beans’, I’ll know she got too much of me in her!”
Despite such tremendous anecdotes, though, Jon doesn’t want his observations about the impact his new baby daughter has had on his life to put people off. The comic, who has put out two live successful stand-up DVDs, Funny Magnet in 2012 and Nidiot in 2014, both of which are released through Universal Pictures (UK), says that, “I’m determined not to talk about my baby in a way that’s alienating”.
“But it’s been such a big change in my life that I can’t not talk about it. It’s also nice to have something new to stress about. I can really get my teeth into this stress!”
The comedian, who has starred on such TV shows as 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4) and Have I Got News For You (BBC One), Live At The Apollo (BBC One), Channel 4’s Comedy Gala Live At The 02 and more recently Taskmaster (Dave), has been attracting shed loads of critical plaudits. The Mirror, for instance, declares that, “For 10 years he has been among the funniest men in Britain”.
The Times, meanwhile, calls him, “One of our most individual and interesting stand-ups”. For its part, Time Out goes for a more succinct summary of Jon’s talent, describing him as, “Sublimely brilliant, stunning.”
Jon, who is as warm and witty in person as he is on stage, is still appealingly humble about his role as a stand-up. “I can’t believe I get to do this job! As I get older, I’ve got more and more to talk about and I have more and more confidence.
“I love the privilege of looking back on my life every three years, turning it into a comedy show and sharing it with an audience. It’s incredibly cathartic. It’s a way of converting the difficult elements of life into comedy. None of us know what’s going on at the moment, so to be able to laugh at it in unity for two hours is absolutely great.”
Since last touring the country, Jon has watched on as the UK voted to leave the EU and witnessed the inexorable rise of Donald Trump to the US Presidency. All of this prompts one key question: Why does it seem that no one else alive can correctly load a dishwasher?
As well as this pressing matter, Jon will be ranging over an array of other hilarious comic topics, including stress, a constant theme in his dazzling act. “I got shingles on the day of the EU referendum. It’s good to see that my stress has got worse as I’ve got older and that now there is a physical element to it!”
Another very amusing element of “Old Man” is that Jon uses Twitter to interact with his audience. The comic, whose bestselling book It’s Not Me, It’s You, was published by HarperCollins in 2012, recollects that, “Recently, I talked to a man in the audience, and he was shocked because I knew where he had been that morning, what football team he supported, and what his wife’s name was. It’s a good about-turn. That’s the joy of Twitter.”
Jon, who is a British Comedy Award nominee and runner-up in Heat Magazine’s ‘Weird Crush’ poll (not once, not twice, but three times!), adds, “That man had messaged me earlier, but people don’t always realise that when you Tweet, you’re building a public record of yourself. It’s nice to have all that free material. It means I can spend more time with my daughter and just take the mickey out of someone in the audience!”
The stand-up, who has also starred in Live At The Apollo (BBC ONE), Channel 4’s Comedy Gala Live At The 02 and most recently Taskmaster (DAVE), proceeds to reflect on how much he adores the experience of live comedy. “It’s such a buzz. The instant reaction you get from the audience is such a privilege.
“Each show is a very honest portrayal of how I’m feeling that night. It can go off in any direction. The show is different every night, and that makes it much more exciting. Every evening is unique.”
But, much as he loves touring, Jon reveals, “I’ll have a break over the summer. People would rather be out in the sun than inside listening to a whingeing moron!”
And when “Old Man” tour finally comes to an end, Jon discloses what he will do next. “I’ll be back at home, concentrating once again on being a dad and a pernickety husband!”
Bath Comedy Festival presents Jon Richardson ‘Old Man’ tour.
Tuesday 27th March, The Forum. www.bathforum.co.uk Show time 8:00pm.
Tickets: From £20.50 (+ booking fee per ticket) Age Restriction: 14+