Other very popular acts aside, this week Jon Richardson is “one of the biggest names we’ve had. Fresher’s is ten times better this year!” The words of one excited returning student echoed the sense of anticipation in a packed Venue 1 on Monday night. The stage looked great, with balloons adorning it and star-cloth hanging along the back, and despite the late start, no one was disappointed. If anything it just made the crowd more excited.
The lights dimmed and spotters started swirling; instantly the crowd hushed and then Leon O’Rourke, our enthusiastic host, burst onto the stage. He was moderately funny and milked his Irish-Iranian-come-Glaswegian background, maybe a little too much. However, his opening did well to reel everyone in and happily, he scared Freshers by reminding them that 1 in 10 of us find a lifelong partner on these windy shores. He then invited Lucy Beaumont to the stage.
Lucy likes pizza. Specifically pizza from bad pizza places in Hull. She also likes Hull. More than Sorry-Surrey and London. Her adorably inept demeanour where (“D’you know,” she repeats) she played up her Northern dumb-blonde stereotype came across as tired and a little non-sensical at times. Her best moments came when she appeared self-aware, calling herself “dizzy”. And she turned a little bitchy when reciting her ‘poem’ No One Talks about Heroin at Weddings. This was when her strength shined through: not succumbing to the stereotype she tried so hard to play up, and turning it on its head into something slightly back-stabbing at a friend’s wedding. She signed off controversially with a “Many Retards” that twisted what initially seemed mediocre into something that genuinely had us cracking up.
The headline act was non-stop fun. His back-and-forth with one poor guy in the front row soon became full-on flirting and it made for a very St Andrews-specific night. He poked fun at the small town, the golf and our odd traditions, and waved off Kate and Wills with a nonchalant, “Who gives a fuck?” He understandably brought up the referendum but turned it on its head by snapping, “Stirling will have to change its name if there’s a yes vote!” His dramatic mini-meltdown also left the crowd with something to think about (“Isn’t holding a brain quite depressing?”) and this sums up his humour. It is poignant and self-deprecating and it constantly leaves you wondering if you’re laughing because you relate or if you feel sorry for him. He is so sad on stage, easily in his own little world and, as he said, “having fun” doing his job that you cannot help but laugh. He plays up his neuroses and his quirks, which make him altogether endearing and just a little relatable, because in the end – who isn’t a little bit crazy? Juxtapose this with his utter hatred for humanity and drunk girls vomiting on trains and you get a comedian who is the Everyman. He is both Northern and a bit posh; he went to uni but dropped out; he is old enough that his life experience makes for witty stories but young enough to be bitter about his age being used to that effect. He takes the time to ad lib, not bothered about sticking to his routine and going in different directions. I’m not entirely convinced he finished a joke the entire night, but you hardly notice because he is so funny anyway.
Leon O’Rourke’s reaction at the end of the night summed it up: Jon loves the crowd, and there’s a reason he’s returned after five years. And St Andrews is easy to please; poke fun at Prince William and complain about golf and we’ll love you. Jon did not disappoint; if anything, his sadness resulted in our happiness. I’m not convinced that makes us good people, but it certainly makes us laugh.