WHEN Matt Richardson first contacted the organisers of comedy night Childish Things, he was fresh out of school.

Now three years and hundreds of gigs later, the 20-year-old from Didcot is set to take to the New Theatre stage alongside Jimmy Carr, the Comedy Store Players and Issy Suttie for the event, which raises money for East Oxford children’s hospice Helen and Douglas House.

Organiser Lizzie Pickering said: “We went to see him in a tiny venue on the Cowley Road and he was very good, but we felt at the time we couldn’t put him on a stage with the likes of Rob Brydon.

“He’s tried us every single year since, so we went to see him again and felt this was the year to give him stage time.”

Mr Richardson, who dropped out of a degree in publishing at Oxford Brookes University to pursue a career in comedy, is the youngest professional comedian on the UK circuit.

He said: “The New Theatre is my local big theatre and I have always wanted to perform there.

“The names that play Childish Things are amazing, and it’s a great cause as well.

“It’s mad.”

Just five or six people were in the audience when Mrs Pickering and co-organiser Kate Day first saw Mr Richardson perform, but he now takes to the stage regularly in front of between 50 and 300 people.

He has supported Russell Kane and won contests including Oxfringe New Act and Bath Comedy Festival New Act of the Year.

He also performed last year at the hospice.

Mr Richardson, a former pupil at St Birinus School, said: “Jimmy Carr was one of the first comedy gigs I ever saw at the New Theatre, so to gig with him in the same room I saw him will be phenomenal.”

He has a ‘bucket list’ of things he wants to do in comedy – and performing at the New Theatre is one of them.

He said: “I think I’m going to have to up my game because everyone on that stage is used to playing to big numbers.

“I’ll have to pretend I’m more of a rock star than I am.”

Looking back, he said he was “mortified” at his audacity at asking for a spot at the gig when he was 18 – but thought it helped his chances of eventually securing a place in the line-up.

He said: “In hindsight, them turning me down was the best thing because I would have just bombed at that point.

“I’m really looking forward to it.”

Childish Things runs over three nights at the New Theatre in George Street, Oxford, with a music night featuring Jamie Cullum, KT Tunstall and Eliza Doolittle on Monday, February 27, and comedy on February 28-29. Tickets start at £25. Log on to newtheatreoxford.org.uk