A loud voice booms out before the start of this sold-out gig in the vast art deco expanse of the Forum ex-cinema, now church; intimating that we are to turn off our phones, and are not to record in any way tonight’s performance. Which is a bit of a setback for a reviewer, since I’m about to disobey by recording it in writing. Is it worth writing about? It is. Jon Richardson inhabits the huge stage effortlessly, with the aid only of a microphone, a coat-hanger (that’s right!) and three cardigans, and succeeds in making 1500 people feel that this is an intimate gig. Not least in his (not overdone) banter with the audience, which is warm, and unaggressively hilarious; and is even done on Twitter. How modern is that? This is ‘observational’ comedy at its peak. He takes the apparently banal things of ordinary life, going for a haircut, eating out, arguments with the wife; and makes you look at them anew. It should be boring; it’s not. It’s riveting. You would not believe how many laughs can be got out of the correct way to stack a dishwasher. His control is sure and confident, and there is a sly laugh every second. Even the knob gags, staple of any comic, are entirely original and in no way prurient. Masterful. An imaginative and brilliant comic at the top of his game. If the rest of the Comedy Festival, of which this is the opening gig, can keep up this standard – then we’re in for a hell of a good time!



John Christopher Wood