Richard Herring – Live Review – Leeds City Varieties
By Victoria Holdsworth, May 2018
I was genuinely excited to see Richard Herring’s ‘Oh Frig I’m 50’ tour as I have always been a huge fan. It feels like he’s always been one of my go-to people for laughs, continuing right up to his show, Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, or as the cool kids like to call it, ‘RHLSTP’.
I was trying to describe his comedy to someone the other day, and the best I could come up with was: ‘He’s like a British Dennis Leary, with the imagination of Noel Fielding and the smarts of Peter Cook.’
Taking our seats, there is a backdrop on-stage with some large helium balloon numbers displaying 50, and the music playing has to be one of those ‘Greatest Of’ albums. In this case it was most certainly ‘The Greatest Shit Party Songs Of All Time Ever’.
“Funny beyond belief”
As you can expect, when an adult reaches a certain age, there are things in their lives that have somehow slowly creeped in – and almost certainly taken over aspects of their social circles; old hobbies may have gone by the wayside, and things just tend to slow down a little bit more, and even more so when you have responsibilities like children and spouses.
Richard Herring is no different. He is one of those comedians who like to talk about his ageing health and sexual problems, his work issues and his family – except not in the way that you would expect.
Starting with some background snippets about what had actually changed for him since his ‘Oh Fuck I’m 40’ shows, mostly involving a wife, two children, drinking alone in his basement and his first pet. He is thoroughly convinced that he will be outlived by the new dog, and that now he has reached half a century, he has had to learn how to position his ball sack before he sits down. His rant about bags for life is funny beyond belief, woven through a few of his stories tonight. Does owning ten of them really make you immortal at his age?
Herring always seems to dare to go where a lot of other comedians would not dare to, and if they did, they would get it horribly wrong. Herring has an inbuilt knack of leading you down a garden path and then disappearing at the end of it in a puff of smoke, only to reappear at the other side of the garden fence, flicking you the Vs and laughing. He pays a lovely tribute to the London Bridge attack victims tonight, and the bravery that passers-by showed in tackling the atrocity and how he himself would deal with such an attack. The resulting punchline was very witty and clever, and masterfully delivered.
One particularly funny moment was his description of George Clooney’s tortoise mouth, which had me in stiches.
Richard’s the father of a small daughter, with a vivid imagination, who thinks that she is on crack. This leads in to some laugh-out-loud moments, especially when it involves The Penguin Slide Race Game he plays on stage. Then there is the other aspects of his child ‘sexcremential’ existence that he has learned to embrace, such as children’s television, and his crush on a certain CBBC presenter. The funniest part is Richard trying to explain his sexual fascination during his subsequent meeting with Funella Furchester from The Furchester Hotel.
“Not for the faint-hearted”
One thing he does touch upon in the first half is about an interesting email he received from a show-goer after a gig. The email outlines why he was not funny and that the emailer had said he was embarrassed for the comedian, doubted his observational skills and was old enough to be his children’s grandfather. As you can imagine – he retorted in blazing fashion.
The second half of the show gets a little bit less light-hearted in delivery and content, and as passionate or whimsical as Richard gets. He thinks that world peace could actually be achieved through reciprocated testicle washing amongst men.
Some of Mr. Herring’s stronger stuff is not for the faint-hearted, or for people who are not easily shocked. He is undeniably a great story teller, and one of which involved a second-hand car that he had bought, that was and still is searching for the previous owner’s i-Phone. So if you see Ryan, tell him that his car misses him.
Always the ponderer, he gives us his take on a new family tree show, called ‘Who Do I Think I Am’, and also about why it is that women do not find him attractive anymore, to being cock blocked by nerds, and how the closure of the country’s local post offices have starved him of pure comedy gold material.
Richard Herring can go to some very dark places, and I really imagine he spends a lot of time with the teddy bears that slam doors in his head. However, just like an old mate, he lends you a guiding hand through the hairier bits, and he will stick a light on at the end of the tunnel for you, so you can then find your own way out.
He may be growing old, but at least he’s growing old disgracefully.