Book Review: Jon Richardson, ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’

Most people will know Jon Richardson as the funny, but somewhat pessimistic stand up comedian; currently the new team captain on 8 out of 10 Cats, and one of the most successful comedians to emerge onto the comedy circuit recently.

In June 2011, Richardson released his debut book It’s Not Me, It’s You. The product description simply describes the book as ‘A control freak looks for love (women who leave wet teaspoons in sugar bowls need not apply).’ The book stemmed from an article Richardson wrote in the Valentine’s Special edition for The Guardian in 2010, apply titled A control freak looks for love. Although he describes this as not being an autobiography, the book follows four days in his life, examining his perfectionism for everything from eating a meal in the correct order to finding the perfect woman for him to settle down with.

Richardson greatly discusses his relationship with a waitress called Gemma, who has recently given Jon her number after a period of casual flirting. He agonisingly thinks and re-thinks about Gemma, and whether he should ask her out and how he should go about it until you will be screaming at the book for him to just phone her and ask her out. Whether Gemma is indeed real or just written in for the book as a metaphor for relationships is something for the reader to question themselves. However, Richardson has answered that question in several publicity interviews for the book.

Although many would assume that the book is extremely humorous due to it being written by a comedian, and it certainly does contain extremely funny and laugh out loud moments, the book does feel more saddening as it delves into the mind of someone seemingly trapped within their own perfectionist ways that simple tasks become incredibly difficult. Whether our personalities are in anyway similar to Richardson, or we couldn’t be further from him, there will certainly be points within the book when you can relate to him enormously; for me this being constantly wondering whether I have remembered to lock the front door as I walk further and further down the street and away from my house.

Richardson manages to combine humour and emotion perfectly within the book, with you wanting to laugh out loud one minute and perhaps cry extensively the next. One of the funniest moments in the book being a situation where he texts a stranger on a train carriage whose number he has just heard them give out. Out of context this doesn’t sound very funny, but in the book it is.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Jon can perfectly provide melancholy to his reader. One of the most emotional moments in the book refers to him watching a couple arguing in Turkish, and the man passive-aggressively takes the woman’s hand in his afterwards. He describes that although it is a seemingly claustrophobic thing to do, it also seems to portray ‘such love and affection.’ He then describes how ‘…without thinking I extend all the fingers and thumb on my hand, just to prove to myself that I can.’

People who are not a fan of Jon Richardson’s stand up should still take the time to delve into this wonderful book. Whether or not you enjoy either the comedy or writing of Jon Richardson, it is impossible not to admire his refreshing honesty and openness when delving into this highly personal part of his life. If nothing else, it may make us think about our own lives and relationships in comparison.

Published 21st November 2011

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About writingsuzanne

History graduate. Freelance writer and reviewer. Passionate about film, theatre and music (film soundtracks!).
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