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Jon Richardson: This Guy At Night
Published on Thursday, 27 August 2009

Jon Richardson, a 2007 Best Newcomer nominee in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards, tells a somewhat metatextual joke about watching a comedian - where "you're not laughing and everyone else is." That image stayed in my mind, as those around me lost their heads and I smiled gently throughout; the willing crowd seemed over-eager to like Richardson, a self-perpetuating symptom maybe of the buzz building up around him this year.

Don't get me wrong, he was personable and very funny, pleasingly Northern without being abusive. But he himself seemed to realise the discrepancy between perception and reality when a throwaway line about a lonely man carrying an egg around nearly brought the house down. Setting aside the hysterical atmosphere, This Guy At Night is a thoughtful and well-delivered set, where Richardson more often than not makes himself the butt of the joke.

He paints himself as a perfectionist, and comes across as genuinely obsessive-compulsive. The show is wide-ranging (although never really justifies the clever pun title), but whether he's talking about betting on a football match or dealing with call centre staff, he's always playing on the notion that his experience is unlike that of other people.

He's weakest, then, when trying to generalise other people's motivations based on his own, asking us to take on faith notions that underpin segments of the act ("everyone hates going to London", for instance). Contrivances like that are little more than a nuisance, to be honest, but they rankle - a bit of my own obsessiveness in response.

Jon Richardson is a nice comedian, and This Guy At Night is a nice show: it's funny, it's comfortable, it's safe. In that joke, the non-laughing guy doesn't look around at the ensuing hilarity and say "well, I guess it isn't for me", but instead says "this isn't funny, and these people are all stupid". I'm not going to say either of those things: it is funny, but it isn't perfect. But then again, what is?

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