Among other things, he’s already tackled the three big issues of love, religion and penises; now Richard Herring is back for what must be his 97th Fringe to solve another conundrum that has flummoxed philosophers for millennia: Exactly what happens after we die?
That matter duly dealt with, Herring has the rest of the hour to fill with jokes about wanking, 9/11, the Holocaust and, surely most offensive of the lot, a certain revered comedy journalist.
Putting aside the malicious libels that are now in the hands of my legal representatives, We’re All Going To Die is a wide-ranging tour around issues of mortality, including the religious, artistic and societal responses to our inevitable demise.
There have, of course, been a spate of recent shows about comedians coming to terms with the loss of a close relative – which, with the unique empathy the industry is known for – has led to the situation that even mentioning that there are a lot ‘dead dad’ shows routines is becoming hack.
But although Herring’s grandmother recently passed away, this is not about how he reacted, but about the wider issues. As he’s one of the atheists you very occasionally find on the comedy circuit these days, religion is first in line for the intellectual skewering, as Herring describes how a placating white lie to spare a child’s grief quickly escalates into notions of heaven, hell and an admissions policy that’s both strict and arbitrary, with exploitable loopholes.
Sardonic and smart, Herring’s clearly put plenty of thought into his topic, and spins around various other aspects of death, flattering his audience that they share some of his obvious intelligence. With (mock) arrogance, he even takes on Shakespeare’s greatest soliloquy... although this section does last a little too long.
Elsewhere, there are some set pieces that don’t really fit into the story. Mocking publishers for releasing a magazine that makes the horrors of the Second World War mundane, or painstakingly deconstructing the lyrics to ‘There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed A Fly...’ might involve death on some level, but they are largely off-topic.
Not that it matters: his petty pedantry is dependably funny. Unlike our mortal vessels, these routines are almost guaranteed never to die.
Review date: Friday 9th Aug, '13
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett