It’s a bit surprising that this is Jon Richardson’s first live stand-up DVD. While it feels like he’s been around for ages, it’s only been since 2010 that he’s really entered the top rung of TV comics, taking on team captain duties on 8 Out Of 10 Cats and hosting Stand Up For The Week. Now those who haven’t managed to see him live get to see a full set from the comic on this disc.
He’s a funny man, although slightly unusual. With most modern comedians their jokes and stories come from taking normal everyday life and then regurgitating it to you. Their comedy relies on the idea that they’re like us and what they say is immediately recognisable as how most people react. Richardson meanwhile finds his humour in the space between how he is and how he knows other people are.
He’s a very anally retentive man and anyone who saw his documentary earlier this year, A Little Bit OCD, will know that his rather obsessive, precise, black and white view of the world isn’t an act. As he says in his DVD, he feels he wasted his 20s cleaning skirting boards with antibacterial wipes and still gets incredibly frustrated if other people don’t do things like the washing up or the recycling in exactly the way he thinks it should be done. He has a set way in his head of how things should be, and if they don’t happen that way it rather spins him out, so either he has to redo it properly himself (the washing up) or feels people are doing things to deliberately protest against him (such as someone putting a cereal box in the black bin rather than the green one).
In Richardson’s world, everything should be neat, orderly and there’s a way everything should be done – so if you’re a grown-up you don’t eat cereal in the evening, and you should know and care where different type of knives go. Richardson finds much of his humour in his self-awareness that most other people aren’t like him, and that they don’t care about minutiae in the way he does. There’s a slight air of comedy being a bit of a psychotherapy session for him, where he sorts through his annoyances and frustrations, and talks about how he has to temper his immediate reactions with the knowledge of how other people look at things. While that might not sound hilarious, he is very funny about it, partly because he’s so self-deprecating (often worryingly so) and partly because his dissection of things is so sharp.
Indeed there are moments where his obsessive compulsive tendencies are a bit of a boon, so that while other comics can make general observations about things, Richardson goes deep into events other people wouldn’t notice or give a second thought to. As a result he can spend 15 minutes talking about someone eating a packed lunch and it’s hilarious. Even here there are things he thinks everyone cares about that they don’t (apparently the world hates the bottom of apples – which are apparently the anus – and Richardson doesn’t seem to realise 99.9% of people have never even thought about this before), but he’s very funny.
I can kind of imagine this DVD being used during courses teaching people how to help others with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (from the way Richardson talks, I wonder if he’s been taught CBT, as the way he has discusses how his immediate reactions need to be moderated with more rational thoughts, it certainly sounds like it – but then a lot of CBT is just common sense, so perhaps he realised it by himself).
Even if you aren’t a little bit OCD, Jon is very funny, and while you may end up wishing Richardson could find a little bit more joy in life and relax a smidge, he’s incredibly endearing and very witty. And if you are a tad obsessive and compulsive you’ll probably be shouting in joy at the screen that finally there’s someone saying all the things you’ve always thoughtm but everyone else has told you to shut up and stop being so silly.
Overall Verdict: A great first disc from Richardson who finds a surprising amount of humour in his compulsive tendencies and negotiating living in a world that so often fails to live up to his personal standards.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac