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Jon Richardson: Funny Magnet – The Lowry, Salford

Reviewer: Poppy Helm

[rating:4]

Jon Richardson has had a lot on his plate over the last year – he’s published a book, captained a team on Channel 4’s 8 Out of 10 Cats and sold out theatres with his It’s Not Me, It’s You tour. It’s a wonder then that he’s found time to write any new material but somehow he has, and it’s really rather good.

Sticking with his tried and tested USP, Richardson is the man who hates everything. He even heckles himself to save you the trouble. Despite the familiar set up, this gig – his biggest audience to date – is undeniably more grown-up. Yes, it’s still peppered with enough tantrums to do a ‘terrible-twos’ toddler proud, but his trademark cardigan has been replaced by a smart blazer and the material itself has a distinctly adult theme.

On his quest to become ‘less angry inside’, Richardson takes us from the unexpected molestation of his Chakras to his shameful excitement at planning a weekend away with friends. As ever, we delight in his pedantry, recognising all those little habits we dislike in ourselves. Perhaps taking his fondness for recycling a little too literally, there are a couple of anecdotes that dedicated fans will recognise from his last tour but otherwise, there is little here to fault. Along with the size of his audience, Richardson’s confidence has clearly grown, typified by experimentation with ‘character’ voices, costume changes and a brief flirtation with a ukulele.

Despite – or perhaps because of – his innate and uncontrollable desire to despise almost everyone who crosses his path, Richardson still manages to be an intensely likeable character. Vitriol is combined with such exaggerated self-deprecation that it seems to set the balance straight. In fact, the overwhelming urge I was left with was to jump up on stage and give the man a hug. The trouble is that, like everything else, you know he’d just hate it.

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