Comedian and radio presenter Jon Richardson may come across as a little grumpy, but what he lacks in smiles he more than makes up for in wit. We chatted to the stand-up about his first solo tour, missing his mate Russell Howard and getting his arse smacked.
I get accused of being grumpy, but what I really think I am is an idealist. I think I reserve the right to get angry when people don't behave how I think they should
How did you get into stand-up ?
I split up with my girlfriend, dropped out of university and got a job that I hated, selling tobacco for a sales company. Eventually I got to the point where I thought I should probably do something a bit more fun. So I started doing stand-up gigs.
Was winning the 2008 Chortle Breakthrough Act Award an emotional moment?
It's really well known among comics - so it's a nice pat on the back from the industry. But in terms of wider recognition, well, most of the public have never heard of this award. A few people have introduced me at gigs as "the winner of the 2008 Chortle Breakthrough Act Award", and I've seen people's faces in the audience - you can tell it means absolutely nothing to them. But it was a great award to win, even if TV companies with cheque books in hand haven't turned up in their droves just yet.
Talking of the public, they voted you as one of the top five comedians to look out for this year. Is this pleasing or too much pressure?
I didn't know anything about it until I got a text from my mum, who'd got a text from my cousin, who'd seen it. I was really pleased. I tend to take my time so if I don't achieve it all by the end of 2009, it's not the end of the world. I don't want to do anything that I'm not proud of or didn't write or make myself. And if that takes longer than a year then so be it.
It was really nice to be recognised. It's something you can always have in the back of your mind, especially when you're driving to a gig in the middle of nowhere on a wet Wednesday. Knowing the public likes you keeps you going.
You toured with Alan Carr - did you get on?
He's a lovely man. He's so easy to get on with, and just such an honest character. At the end of the tour we each gave each other gifts. I bought him a book called 'How to Eradicate Thoughts of Suicide' or something. We'd spent hours in his dressing room discussing ways to top ourselves. Touring is quite a tough experience.
You currently host a Sunday morning show on BBC6 Music, having originally been Russell Howard's sidekick in the same slot. Do you miss Russell?
Yeah, I do. Funnily enough I was listening to some old clips from the show last night on YouTube. It was great fun. We just used to turn up with nothing planned and just try and make each other laugh. I've never enjoyed it as much since Russell left. Although now I can do more of my own writing and I can get people in who I like.
What's the wittiest thing you've ever seen or heard?
My granddad was one of the wittiest people I knew - he was very dry and sarcastic and always took you by surprise. I've got a friend called Gary who's the same. It hits you all the harder when someone's quite quiet and serious most of the time.
I was out doing some gigs in Crete, and I took Gary along. He came to one of my gigs. It was in a restaurant, on a walkway, full of families. I was really new at the time, it was absolutely terrible. We went out for a few drinks afterwards to drown my sorrows and I was taking the piss out of Gary quite ruthlessly to try and cheer myself up. He hadn't spoken for about half an hour and then he just said, "It's a little bit late for you to start getting funny now." That cut me down to size.
Jim Bowen said "I'll smack his arse if he gets any funnier". How do you feel about Jim Bowen smacking your arse?
I just happened to do a gig with Jim Bowen and he said that during a conversation afterwards. It's really weird gigging with someone from a completely different comic generation to you. He was telling me that he didn't really get the new alternative comedy, but because we're from the same area, I just told stories about that area and he really enjoyed it. That's when he came out with that comment. I don't always hang around with comics from the 70s - but when I do we seem to click. Not sure if that's a good thing or not.
You're known for being a bit grumpy - is that a natural trait of yours?
I get accused of being grumpy, but what I really think I am is an idealist. I think I reserve the right to get angry when people don't behave how I think they should. If everyone just looked after the people around them - I don't just mean family, but if you're in the street or in the bank or in the bar, if you make sure you're not inconveniencing anyone and everyone does the same then the world will quickly get a lot better. But as a result of thinking like this I get accused of being a grumpy bastard. The fact I live on my own, away from everyone, could kind of confirm that stereotype I guess.
To find out more about Jon and what he is up too visit: offthekerb.co.uk