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Interview: Jon Richardson

PUBLISHED: 17:58 11 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:13 01 July 2010

Abigail Saltmarsh

You will rarely find a grumpier, funnier control freak who can tell you a tall tale Jon Richardson. He's back in Norwich, but keep your heads down, says ABIGAIL SALTMARSH, he's bound to find fault with something here.

You will rarely find a grumpier, funnier control freak who can tell you a tall tale with better bite than Jon Richardson. He's coming back to Norwich, but keep your heads down, says ABIGAIL SALTMARSH, he's bound to find fault with something here.

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Jon Richardson just can't help himself - he knows he picks fault in everything and everyone.

“I get quite frustrated about a lot of things on a day-to-day basis. I can't help it, it is an impulse with me,” he says. “The stand-up show I am bringing to Norwich is on the theme of perfection and how you cope if you have a natural disposition to pick faults in everything.”

Jon, who recently appeared on the BBC's Have I Got News For You election special, has visited Norwich before, performing at the open air Whiffler Theatre in Castle Gardens.

“I remember being very nervous about performing outdoors. I also did a show in the city once with Alan Carr. It was one of the best ones we did on that tour,” he said. “Norwich is somewhere I am very fond of.”

Lancaster-born Jon, who currently hosts the Sunday mid-morning show on BBC 6Music, is one of the most in-demand stand-up artists on the UK comedy circuit today.

He launched into a career in comedy after winning his heat of the BBC New Talent Comedy Search in May 2003. He then reached the semi-finals of the Laughing Horse New Act of The Year competition in 2004.

How did he end up in comedy? “The same as anyone else really - I dropped out of university, split up with my girlfriend - she helped by dumping me, but I think we both knew whose decision it really was, started work as a chef from 6am to 11pm and decided it was time for a change,” he recalls.

“Somewhat naively I entered the BBC's New Talent Competition, believing it was for people who had never tried comedy before. I remember sitting in the dressing room before the show and hearing the other acts - who all knew one another - talking to Rhod Gilbert about how he must be about ready to go 'full-time' as a comic. My request for a steward's enquiry was turned down and I had learned my first lesson about 'the industry'.”

That earliest experience hasn't held him back though. In 2006, he appeared on the Comedy Zone at the Edinburgh Festival, completed the 60-date UK and Irish tour with Alan Carr, which saw him come to Norwich, and made an appearance on Paramount's The Comedy Store.

Jon's first solo show at Edinburgh came in 2007 with Spatula Pad, earned him a Best Newcomer nomination for the if.comedy Awards.

Since then, he has appeared on BBC music quiz show Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Have I Got News For You and The Bubble.

“I do enjoy doing the TV work but I try to be careful not to do too much. Otherwise, you end up being recognised just for being on television rather than for your own stuff,” he said.

His current show is called This Guy at Night. At last year's Edinburgh Comedy Awards it received a Best Show nomination followed by a critically acclaimed sell-out run at the Fringe.

Having spent the last two years defending the option to face the world alone, the show sees Jon exploring the notion that the human race may be weaker and less able (individually and globally) to deal with problems than it has at any point in its history.

“I do talk to the audience during the show,” he said. “If people want to join in, it can be fun.”

The comedian is currently working on a book as well as touring. This explores relationships and how people cope when they are “pernicky” about who they end up with.

Jon is a self-confessed control freak who has to have his filing faultless, his CDs arranged in the right order, his cutlery in the right drawers and can only eat a biscuit the correct way.

“For a long time I fought the fight for people who wanted to be on their own but I have realised that I do tend to notice faults about people too much,” he said.

“My last girlfriend was a loser. Literally. A wonderful and beautiful person, but prone to losing things; keys, money, credit cards, mobile phones. Each time she lost something, she would get upset and come to me for help and reassurance. I, on the other hand, am a keeper. If you were to ask me to lay my hands on a receipt for a pair of shoes I bought in 1997, I would be angry if it took me more than 90 seconds to locate it.

“This is something I do need to address. I need to recognise that everyone is an individual and that the key to a good relationship is to recognise that. This does theme to be a theme in my stand-up as well as my writing!”

t Jon Richardson will be at the Norwich Playhouse on June 13, £12.50, 01603 598598, www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk

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