Night of laughs for hospice appeal

The Winter Gardens, Morecambe.
The Winter Gardens, Morecambe.

Laughter is the best medicine, so the saying goes, and a night of comedy at Morecambe’s Winter Gardens on Saturday went a long way to proving it to be true.

Stand-up comedian Jon Richardson was joined on the famous stage by lesser-known names Matt Forde and Angela Barnes to raise money for St John’s Hospice.

Despite his tongue in cheek quip that he was “taking a slice – you don’t get this for free, obviously”, Lancaster-born Richardson had offered his services for nothing to help support the hospice’s work, as had his colleagues.

And the 500 people crammed into the historic Winter Gardens on Saturday evening clearly appreciated the effort.

Before taking to the stage with his own act, Richardson introduced his friends for sets of their own.

Matt Forde showed his background as a former political adviser with many of his jokes centred around politics.

His impressions of figures such as Tony Blair, Ed Milliband and Gordon Ramsay were uncanny, and his routine about public speaking and the way Sky News dramatically reports on even the most mundane occurrence were brilliantly observed.

Next on the bill was Maidstone comedienne Angela Barnes.

I had not heard of Barnes before, and I was very impressed.

Her tales of everyday life – living on her own, drugs, online dating, children and even her problems with glue ear and gromits – were the kind that everyone could relate to, and her self-deprecating humour had the audience, particularly the women, nodding along in recognition as well as rolling in the aisles.

And so to the main attraction, Jon Richardson.

Educated at Ryelands Primary School – he reminisced about his time spent in the Woodcraft Folk while a pupil there – and Lancaster Royal Grammar School, many of Richardson’s jokes incorporated local landmarks of the past such as Johnny’s Fun Factory, Frontierland and the Polo Tower (“all of us could just push it over and into the bay and get rid of it”).

His story about a recent trip to America for a friend’s wedding was among the highlights of his set, with his ‘one American accent for all’ making the story even funnier, and his long-winded tale about trying to explain the English concept of allotments to an American was hilarious.

I had previously heard about Richardson suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and his routine about using the toilets in Morrisons, which clearly pointed to his OCD, was an indication of the way he uses his own life to such great effect in his comedy.

By the end of the night there was one clear winner – St John’s Hospice, with more than £10,000 raised towards its valuable work – but everyone went home with smiles on their faces.