Review: Richard Herring at the Epstein Theatre
“We’re laughing and learning tonight,” Richard Herring told the Epstein Theatre. “Well, mainly learning.”
The gladly ‘uncool’ comedy veteran’s new show Lord of the Dance Settee is full of literary and historical references.
First exploring the metaphysical poet John Donne’s assertion in 1624 that “no man is an island”, this was seemingly heavyweight stuff.
But observing how fake KFC restaurants try to fool people by calling themselves anything starting with a ‘K’ – Kenny Dalglish and Ken Dodd Fried Chicken were his local suggestions– and how it’s impossible to be sad when you see someone wearing a sombrero, it was clear there would be equal measures of silliness during this set.
There were plenty of random anecdotes from the 47-year-old’s youth, but he was at pains to stress “there are lots of complex themes too”, adding that if reviewers are so clever, “I’m not telling you – you should be able to spot them”.
Recounting hilarious childhood tales at an incredibly fast pace, it was hard not to be swept along by our besuited host’s energy, even if his frantic patter was a little difficult to follow at times.
He shares some of the righteous indignation and frequent repetition of his former comic partner Stewart Lee, but this is delivered with less sneer and more warmth.
A highlight of his caustic material was reflecting on how he spent the last International Women’s Day replying to thousands of sexist “wassocks” who had tweeted “When’s International Men’s Day?” with a simple reply: “November 19”.
After the interval he even made selling DVDs and books entertaining, before admitting that he wrote the best gag of his career – a slapstick fall – more than 25 years ago, and it’s been all downhill since.
He couldn’t be more wrong, and while it would be a shame to reveal the glorious call back finale, one line about hearing a gobby teen call him what sounded like “fat count” – “I’m not even a minor member of the aristocracy” – has had me chuckling to myself ever since.