Richard Herring is totally unlike usual observational comedians who begin their spiel with the line “You know when you get…” Richard’s material is seriously well researched, very cleverly constructed, and he has delighted in de-bunking the myths and mistakenly held beliefs that have be-devilled society. Nothing is taboo and, after dissecting the questions of love and genitals in his earlier shows, he now takes the audience into the self-evident taboo subject of death with a side-swipe against the traditional religious views of heaven and the after-life.
Dressed in sombre black against a simple backdrop of purple lit curtains that would not have disgraced a funeral parlour, he delivers a fast paced discourse on the irrational views we hold of living and the thereafter. For example, if there was no evolution we would all still be immortal amoebas. If you really want immortality, fall into a bog and become a leathery museum exhibit. Maybe life and living isn’t so bad after all. His mocking treatment of the idealistic martyrs, past and present did create a resonance with his audience, who were clearly from the religiously sceptic spectrum.
He matches the sharp wit and intelligence of Terry Pratchet, writing about DEATH in his Discworld novels, with a more abrasive on-stage approach to that final curtain and how we handle it. A particular target was an astonishingly insensitive railway magazine he had found featuring WWII travel arrangements that should make any European trainspotter cringe with shame. An extended critique of the text of the familiar song ‘There was an old woman who swallowed a fly’ and a psycho-social dissection of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy made for some thought-provoking laughs.
Richard has anticipated his own demise with a prolonged discourse on how a certain literary hack might create a myriad of puns on the Herring name. A brief poignant interlude relating to the death of his grandmother led to some speculation of what age you would choose (given the choice) to enter the heaven of your belief. This was a performance to celebrate the joy of life - because that’s it