Jon Richardson at Hackney Empire review: a gloriously grumpy showcase

 (Andy Hollingworth )
(Andy Hollingworth )

Jon Richardson has carved out a nice niche as comedy’s Mr Finicky. He is the godfather of fussiness on mockumentary Meet The Richardsons alongside his longsuffering wife, fellow stand-up Lucy Beaumont. He is the grand master of grumbles as team captain on 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown. And onstage last night he was a maestro of misanthropic pedantry. Oh, and very funny too.

Richardson’s latest show The Knitwit finds him picking a brand new bunch of gripes. He has now reached the middle aged zone where he is tempted to stop holding in his anger out of politeness and just wants to let rip. This is normal for his time of life, he suggests, and wonders how David Attenborough still remains such an epitome of good manners.

His set is not political or topical, this is Richardson getting personal, from revelations about an unexpected sexual awakening on the climbing rope at school to a recent intimate medical examination. When he discussed the latter you could almost hear male sphincters in the room collectively clenching.

He might be at the extreme end of the irritation scale, but his humour clearly touches nerves. Particularly when it comes to describing domestic life with Beaumont. Considerable laughter is generated by Richardson merely expressing his distaste for savages who do not immediately soak the bowl after their breakfast cereal. Tofu storage protocol is another kitchen flashpoint.

Elsewhere there are playful swipes at self-righteous vegans, Geordies in general and Ant and Dec in particular. As for anyone who prefers mood lighting to a single big light that actually illuminates a room, Richardson despairs. When did actual adults start having fairy lights in their lounge all year?

These seamless rants might start to feel uncomfortable if it was not for the fact that it is the comedy contrarian who is invariably the butt of the banter. A self-mocking highlight was his account of training intensively for a TV sports event only to be eliminated by nature broadcaster Kate Humble having barely folded away his tracksuit top neatly.

As for those jibes regarding his wife, who is as chilled and sociable as he is anal and introverted, Richardson points out that she is touring next year – her chance to settle scores. Last night’s pre-emptive strike, however, being filmed for future broadcast on C4, clearly makes it Round One to Richardson.