Not sure they were actually in the same room at the same time for this photoshoot...
Shappi Khorsandi and Jon Richardson at The Corn Exchange, Newbury, on Tuesday, May 25
ALTHOUGH comedy double headers are common during comedy festivals, it’s fairly rare to see them on tour. This is despite the concept making perfect sense, as it prevents a solo act needing to stretch their hour of best material beyond breaking point, or signing up a random support act who may not be to the taste of the audience.
So this double bill of two equally strong stand-up comedians was an unusual treat, and the complementary pairing of Shappi Khorsandi and Jon Richardson made for a satisfactory night of comedy. Richardson was the revelation of the night for me, but only because Khorsandi is a more prolific television presence, meaning that some of her material was familiar. Khorsandi herself commented “I hope you didn’t all watch Loose Women today”, after realising she was trotting out a joke broadcast live on ITV1 just hours earlier.
Although Khorsandi is quite a girly comedienne, she is less fluffy than the likes of Lucy Porter. A Question Time veteran, she tackled some pretty serious issues, such as the death threats received by her satirist father after the family fled Iran in the 1970s, experiences also covered in her book A Beginner’s Guide to Acting English. Khorsandi also avoided the abrasiveness with which some other female comedians approach difficult experiences, discussing her separation from her husband without bitterness, and talked with genuine warmth about being a newly-single mother to her young son.
Richardson purposefully divided the audience into those who laughed with him and those who laughed at him by defining two personality types, “putters” and “leavers”, based on whether your keys are where you “put” them or where you “left” them. Very much a “putter”, Richardson plots everything in his life meticulously down to the last detail, becoming upset when the best laid plans go awry, and angered by those “leavers” who can float through life without sweating the small stuff. While going some way to possibly explaining why Richardson has been single for seven years. I found his set to be the perfect hour of comedy. Hopefully that will make him happy.
- First published in Newbury Weekly News, Thursday June 10