COMIC Jon Richardson has no intention of giving up stand-up comedy. Ever. Or so he insists as he prepares to bring his new show, Nidiot, to the Playhouse on Saturday.
“I’ll be doing stand-up for the rest of my life. The opportunities that it grants you can’t be denied.
“Stand-up is both the hardest thing I do and the thing I enjoy most. There is no fooling anyone with edits or six people around you – it’s the purest possible art-form,” he says.
“I’m very proud of being a comedian and having got to the point where people will come out to see me. They remind me that I’m good at it.
“Paranoia can set in the day after a show. But you’re never closer to the moment of remembering you’re funny than when you’re on stage making hundreds of people laugh.
“At that second, there’s no argument about it. There is no discussion about the Top 100 Comedians. As soon as I come off stage, I’ll tell myself that other comedians are better. But at that moment, the focus is so pure, it’s wonderful. Hearing people laugh is infectious. It makes you feel so good.”
Passionate, then, Richardson, who last year presented his own Channel 4 documentary, Jon Richardson: A Little Bit OCD, confesses that for him nothing beats the experience of touring.
“I love being on tour. The question I always struggle with is, ‘What don’t you like about touring?’ I love it all – the hotels, the new towns, the new restaurants, finding things to do during the day of a show. I love all that.”
The stand-up has been described by critics as “a highly sophisticated comedian who is by turns hilarious and disturbing” and as being “so good, he actually bends time.”
He doesn’t, of course, but even off stage the regular on Channel 4’s 8 Out of 10 Cats is a genuinely funny man.
“I itch to do new material all the time. Even when I’m on tour, I’m writing stuff for the next tour. I live near a comedy club, and I’m always trying out new material there,” he reveals.
“It’s such a buzz when you say something you’ve never said before and it gets a huge laugh in the club. If you then go on to say it on Live at the Apollo, three million people laugh. You think, ‘That came out of the reaction to something I said in front of 40 people in a pub on a Monday night!’ ”
His success, Richardson puts down to his easy rapport with audiences - although he’s much happier these days.
“I meet a lot of people at the stage door. They always say they’re as weird as I am. Meeting me is a cathartic process for them. People want to know it’s okay to think some of the things I’ve thought. They say to me, ‘My husband has this compulsion’, and I think, ‘That seems really sensible – I might start doing that myself.’
“It’s so gratifying that they have made a special effort to come out and laugh at my show. There is no way they could have turned up by accident.”
Explaining the title of his show, he offers, “A nidiot is something different from an idiot. An idiot is someone whose problems are caused by not concentrating enough. A nidiot is someone who makes his life more complicated by thinking too much rather than not enough. I’m not an idiot, but I’m definitely a nidiot.
“The main theme of ‘Nidiot’ is being happy. Because I now live with my girlfriend, this is the first time I’ve gone on tour as a happy person.
“The show is about me looking back and realising that nothing was really wrong - I created problems for myself by over-thinking things.
“For instance, I railed against the idea of relationships without understanding that 99 per cent of people go into relationships because they make you happy. As soon as I stopped fighting, I felt like a fish that had given up wriggling in a net.”
The turning point came when a group of Richardson’s friends gathered in the US for a wedding and persuaded him to join them on a day trip on a speedboat.
“In the past, I wouldn’t have touched a speedboat in a foreign country with a bargepole. High-speed mechanical equipment you could die on was not my idea of fun. But that day I came to the realisation that I hadn’t been happy for the last ten years because I’d thought too much about risks rather than putting on my swimming trunks and just having fun.”
Jon Richardson’s Nidiot, Playhouse, Greenside Place, Saturday, 8pm, £23.40-£39.40, 0844-871 3014