Saturday, 3 April 2010

Jon Richardson, This Guy at Night, Powder Room, Melbourne Town Hall

Fittingly for an event with venues scattered through Melbourne’s Chinatown picking out what to see at the Melbourne Comedy Festival is a bit like going out for Yum Cha. Most shows are relatively cheap and come in pleasant bite-sized lengths, meaning you can sample two or three a night before you're full. The names on the comedy menu outside the Melbourne Town Hall can be as strange and unrecognisable as the fare served up from the restaurant trolley, and sometimes it’s easier to just fill up your plate and hope you find something tasty.

One delicious dim-sim of a show is Jon Richardson's
This Guy at Night which we took a punt on despite its terrible pun of a name. A former BBC Radio 6 DJ and winner of the Best Breakthrough Act at the 2008 Chortle Awards I hadn’t heard of him prior to the festival but overseas reviews tempted me in.

Continuing the Chinese food allegory far longer than is necessary or pleasant, Richardson in the flesh is sweetly sour. He may describe himself as a grumpy perfectionist misanthrope but in truth he comes across as anything but. Whilst unquestionably funny I initially found it hard to reconcile the glass-mostly-empty OCD-like behaviours being related with the smartly dressed, friendly young man on stage. I wasn’t alone, and even Jon noticed the reaction in the room, admitting that he had never felt so out of control a crowd in his entire life. True or not it didn’t bother him for long and as the hour progressed the crowd clicked with his self-depreciating style.

Using an increasingly messed up world as a backdrop This Guy at Night turns the mirror back on Richardson, drawing laughs from his recognised lack of coping skills. Irrational anger at situations he can’t change, punishing himself for other people’s behaviours, hiding away from the world with only satellite TV and a dart board for company – this is Jon’s world, but one that by the end is strangely attractive and logical. Always interesting and mostly very funny (a few unadvised attempts at Australian accents aside - what is it with comedians and accents?) This Guy At Night proved well worth a stab of our chopsticks and despite what he may think (and unlike the dumplings I had for tea) Jon Richardson leaves a nice aftertaste.

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