REVIEW: Jon Richardson & Friends, Christ’s Hospital, Horsham, April 21

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Word has clearly spread about Christ’s Hospital’s new status as a quality stand-up venue in Sussex.

Tonight the theatre is packed with comedy fans eager to see 8 Out of 10 Cats star Jon Richardson.

However, before the Lancastrian funnyman appears on stage the audience gets to experience the quick-witted, largely improvised humour of compere John Robins. His risky (and occasionally gob-smacking) jokes about the school are thankfully greeted by good-natured laughter.

But John’s best moment arrives when he asks one audience member about her job and finds out that it involves raising sheep. Prodding and teasing his target, he cleverly twists her amusing answers into a series of bizarrely humorous images.

Next up is Ivo Graham. The 25-year-old posh boy gets a warm reception, providing anecdotes from his Eton education in a subtly self-deprecating way. His story about finding Eton-approved alternatives to video games during his teens is both ridiculous and poignant, while his tale about going on holiday with his parents is hilariously cringe-worthy.

Ivo’s message, it would seem, is that the well-off don’t have the amazing life that members of the working class might imagine. It’s good stuff but his material might get a stronger response in front of a different audience. As the comedian himself admits, his experiences might be a little too familiar and understandable to the (presumably) more middle class viewers tonight.

Watch out for this guy though. Ivo’s got that deadpan sarcasm that could make him a cult favourite.

Finally, after a quick break for drinks, it’s time for Jon Richardson who delights us with his eccentric yet oddly low energy set. Jon’s lack of enthusiasm is, of course, all part of the act. His anecdotes, mainly about mundane, day-to-day activities - loading the dishwasher, trying different chocolate bars, using public toilets (shudder) - are delivered with a kind of subdued mix of annoyance and amusement.

His complaints about minor irritants, like the frozen yogurt fad or the odd places men put on weight, get a great response. This is probably because he describes his frustration so effectively and offers a unique view on these problems.

To put it simply, Jon has the kind of observations that make you go: “I never thought of it like that, but he’s right!”

Skilfully playing the audience, Jon is even able to get a laugh out of slowly untangling his microphone wire. If that doesn’t show a knack for comedy I don’t know what does.

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