Saturday 12th October 2013
Having sampled the delights of Richard Herring on the themes of religion, love, and sex (well, the penis), we can’t help feeling that the darker his subject matter gets, the more hilarious he is. Now, tackling the theme of death, he seems to be more in his element than ever. Any hint of seriousness, after an ominous opening in which he asks the audience to imagine being dead, is soon dispelled as we are led through the whole gamut of death-related anxieties and absurdities. Death is good news, proclaims Herring. After all, we wouldn’t have evolution without death, so the only way to be immortal would be to have stayed as an amoeba. And the thought of death helps us get things done. Even marriage becomes more palatable, says Herring, when you have the ‘until death do us part’ get-out clause.
Whether asking the questions nobody dares to ask (do you really have to burn that coffin or can I get a refund?), deconstructing Hamlet’s most famous speech about death, or ranting about the poor taste of the ‘bookazine’ editors who published the title ‘Railways and the Holocaust’ (and yes, it’s all true), he is unstoppable. Actually, we have a theory about that last one – having seen the sheer number of railway-themed publications on the bottom shelf at Smiths while doing our research, we have to conclude that including the word ‘railway’ in the title is the nerd-attracting equivalent of draping scantily clad women on magazines and billboards. Herring is relentless in his determination that we will never look at death the same way again. What is the point of heaven without bodily pleasures? If you’re sitting on a cloud waiting for your wife to join you how do you feel when she turns up with her second husband? And isn’t the Devil actually helping God by punishing people in hell, the fear of which is supposed to make us all good?
One of the things we really like about Herring is that he doesn’t do audience participation. A heckler is greeted with a tirade reassuring him that Herring is definitely going to be funnier, but if he would like to pay everyone in the audience the price of their ticket, he is welcome to do the show. Packed with insights, jokes and pure mischief delivered at breakneck speed, we can’t wait for the next taboo to be broken, or should we say taken apart forensically, agonised over in a hilarious way and delivered back to us on a plate for our delectation. If only he was immortal…….