For someone who claims to be a “bit of a penis”, “a dick” and an all round nasty person Jon Richardson is, it should be said, a comedian who audiences instinctively warm to. He has a charm, a turn of phrase and a vulnerability which allows him to say the most horrendous (yet still very funny) things and we support him, nurture the laughs, and go along with him all the way.
His paranoias and compulsive behaviours provide the thrust and thematic arcs of his comic intent and the jokes come thick and fast. A storyteller rather than a one-liner comedian he draws you into a false sense of security, developing bigger and bigger laughs until hitting with a punchline that throws you in a different direction, a pull back and reveal master.
But it’s not a light night, it’s not a show where you’ll leave it filled with hope, ambition, dreams and joy, on the contrary, Richardson pulls you into an ever darker swirling void of misery and hatred, and with each pull releases squirms of delight. Because his compulsions are, while more intense than other peoples, recognisable, you support him in his quest to vanquish them. A routine involving the correct way of washing up, drew tears of laughter from my girlfriend in recognition that at last, someone understood what she’d been telling me for months and why she was, in fact, right.
Performing at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall is a hard gig, it’s a cavernous space unsuited to stand-up. If you’re seeing comedy there, get downstairs and close to the stage as from the circle it can feel like you’re barely there. But for a man who professed to having not played many bigger spaces, Jon Richardson walked on and off as if he owned the place and it felt, for the first time I’ve been to a gig there, a quite good space. A great comedian and a great show.