Fans of comedian Jon Richardson – and there are millions of you out there – can breathe an enormous of relief. He has no intention of giving up stand-up comedy – ever.
In the run-up to his latest tour, “Nidiot “, Jon reassures us that, “I’ll be doing stand-up for the rest of my life. The opportunities that it grants you can’t be denied. Stand-up is both the hardest thing I do and the thing I enjoy most. There is no fooling anyone with edits or six people around you – it’s the purest possible art-form.”
Jon, who has built up a huge and very loyal live following, continues that, “I’m very proud of being a comedian and having got to the point where people will come out to see me. They remind me that I’m good at it. Paranoia can set in the day after a show. But you’re never closer to the moment of remembering you’re funny than when you’re on stage making hundreds of people laugh.
“At that second, there’s no argument about it. There is no discussion about the Top 100 Comedians. As soon as I come off stage, I’ll tell myself that other comedians are better. But at that moment, the focus is so pure, it’s wonderful. Hearing people laugh is infectious. It makes you feel so good.”
Also, Jon carries on, “I’m obsessed with keeping things tidy. So when I’m focused on the job in hand on stage, it’s a blessed relief from folding towels in the dressing room!”
The comedian, who last year presented his own Channel 4 documentary, Jon Richardson: A Little Bit OCD, reckons that for him nothing beats the experience of touring. “I love being on tour. The question I always struggle with is, ‘What don’t you like about touring?’ I love it all – the hotels, the new towns, the new restaurants, finding things to do during the day of a show. I love all that.”
The great news is, we will now be able to enjoy Jon’s tour as much as he does. He is hitting the road and visiting all four corners of the UK this spring with “Nidiot”. He is a naturally funny stand-up, who enjoys a terrific relationship with his audiences.
It’s not just me who thinks so, however. The Mirror has described him as, “Developing into a highly sophisticated comedian who is by turns hilarious and disturbing, and under no circumstances should you miss him.” Chortle pronounces that he is, “So good, he actually bends time.” Meanwhile, Time Out declares that he is, “Sublimely brilliant, stunning. He is a comic right on the verge of greatness. If you haven’t seen him yet, get you finger out and sort it.”
Unwinding in his agent’s office before the tour kicks off, Jon is a contagiously amusing man. To use the technical term, he has funny bones.
His comedy stays so fresh because he is always thinking up new routines. Jon, a very popular team captain on Channel 4’s much loved comic panel show, 8 Out of 10 Cats, reflects that, “I itch to do new material all the time. Even when I’m on tour, I’m writing stuff for the next tour. I live near a comedy club, and I’m always trying out new material there.
“It’s such a buzz when you say something you’ve never said before and it gets a huge laugh in the club. If you then go on to say it on Live at the Apollo, three million people laugh. You think, ‘That came out of the reaction to something I said in front of 40 people in a pub on a Monday night!’”
Jon, who has also hosted Channel 4’s topical comedy show, Stand Up for the Week, has always had a marvellous rapport with his fans, which is just one reason why his live shows are so electric.
He enthuses that, “I meet a lot of people at the stage door. They always say they’re as weird as I am! Meeting me is a cathartic process for them. People want to know it’s OK to think some of the things I’ve thought. They say to me, ‘My husband has this compulsion’, and I think, ‘That seems really sensible – I might start doing that myself!’”
“It so gratifying that they have made a special effort to come out and laugh at my show. There is no way they could have turned up by accident!”
Jon, who has also starred alongside fellow 8 out of 10 Cats captain Sean Lock in the Channel 4 series Hillbilly Holiday, goes on to explain the title of the new show. “It’s designed to confuse radio DJs,” deadpans the comedian, who has previously been known for his pessimistic demeanour.
“A ‘nidiot’ is something different from an idiot. An idiot is someone whose problems are caused by not concentrating enough. A ‘nidiot’ is someone who makes his life more complicated by thinking too much rather than not enough. I’m not an idiot, but I’m definitely a ‘nidiot’!”
Jon, whose second live DVD will be released in November, proceeds to reveal that the show majors on the idea of how a perennial singleton and misanthrope is determined to turn into a more easygoing person for the sake of his friends and his future health. He urges people to come and see if the leopard can change his spots - or whether he is doomed to be eternally furious about the fact that he was not born with a more symmetrical fur pattern.
Jon comments that, “The main theme of ‘Nidiot’ is being happy. Because I now live with my girlfriend, this is the first time I’ve gone on tour as a happy person.” A man who is unable to resist a gag, he adds: “Fingers crossed that something goes wrong by the time I record the DVD in October!
“No, the show is about me looking back and realising that nothing was really wrong - I created problems for myself by over-thinking things. For instance, I railed against the idea of relationships without understanding that 99 per cent of people go into relationships because they make you happy. As soon as I stopped fighting, I felt like a fish that had given up wriggling in a net.”
The turning point came when a group of Jon’s friends gathered together in the US for a wedding persuaded him to join them on a day trip on a speedboat. He says that, “In the past, I wouldn’t have touched a speedboat in a foreign country with a bargepole. High-speed mechanical equipment you could die on was not my idea of fun.
“But that day I came to the realisation that I hadn’t been happy for the last ten years because I’d thought too much about risks rather than putting on my swimming trunks and just having fun. Now I fight less, but I tut a lot more.”
Even so, Jon admits, “I was worried that this was not my natural comic voice - people associate me with being pernickety and down. In the past, I was guilty of keeping myself like that just to maintain my comic voice. That was insanity. But I’m not that type of comedian anymore.”
However, Jon is quick to reassure us that, “Comedically nothing has changed in this show. I may have a girlfriend, but I still shout at the TV and at the squirrels in my garden. If anything, the list of things I shout at is even longer now. Sadly, I think the leopard can’t change his spots. It’s just that my perspective is different now. I’m complaining from the other side of the coin.”
Happiness has, if anything, made Jon an even better comedian. He is certainly keen to accentuate the positive. “My relationship has given me a focus outside comedy, which I’ve never had before. My 20s were incredibly career-driven. But there are times now when I even forget I’m a comedian. That’s essential for my mental health.”
Jon concludes with a laugh that, “I shouldn’t still be working out how to be misanthropic singleton comic when I’m 60. I should have moved on by then. I feel I may have betrayed people by being in a relationship and being happy, but hopefully they’ll still come to see me and love the show.”
Whether or not his fans will love his show is one thing Jon definitely does not need to worry about.
Tickets for Jon Richardson’s “Nidiot” night at the Millennium Forum on Sunday, October 19 can be booked at www.millenniumforum.co.uk