Jacob Tong, who was out in Newcastle celebrating his father's birthday, spent five days in intensive care after being punched by David Izzard, who was in the city for a weekend away with pals from his hometown in Essex last November.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the single blow sent Mr Tong crashing to the ground at Marlborough Crescent and left him with a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain.
As a result, the 30-year-old carer has been unable to return to work, can't yet drive, feels lethargic and nervous and has been left "flat broke".
He has also lost his senses of taste or smell, which means he can't even enjoy fish and chips.
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He said in a victim statement: "I really enjoyed fish and chips. Now, whenever I taste them, I do not like the taste."
Izzard, 23, of Rockingham Avenue, Hornchurch, Essex, admitted causing grievous bodily harm.
Mr Recorder Keith Miller sentenced him to 16 months behind bars, and warned Izzard could easily have killed his victim in the attack, which was captured on CCTV and played during the hearing.
The judge said: "The tragic thing is, attacks like this are so common, he could easily have ended up facing a charge of murder or manslaughter."
He told Izzard: "I accept there may well have been banter on that night over the fact that you and the young men with you came from Essex and that people locally would have picked up on that and made comments about your different accents."
The judge said it is "not entirely clear" what made Izzard lash out at Mr Tong, who has no recollection of the attack due to his injuries.
He added: "He still suffers a loss of smell and lack of taste and he refers particularly to the fact he is no longer able to enjoy a meal like fish and chips, as he previously did.
"The loss of taste and smell is very significant interference with enjoyment of life for anybody who suffers such loss."
Peter Walsh, defending, said Izzard, who works full-time and has a good background, was "horrified" when he heard about the consequences of his single punch and handed himself in to the police.Mr Walsh added: "The consequences of that punch are something he never anticipated."Mr Walsh said the argument that erupted had not intially concerned Izzard but he involved himself because he had been drinking, which he now regrets.