3 out of 5
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 16 November 2011 18.31 GMT
Richard Herring's previous show tackled religion, and his new one takes on love another article of blind faith around which millions structure their lives. Tonight, he sets out to answer the big questions: is love anything other than a romantic delusion? Does it turn on fate, or just chance? And might the first meaningful relationship of the 44-year-old Herring's life four years and counting have any chance of success? If Herring's conclusions are seldom surprising, or indeed conclusive, his sophistical arguments and several lively anecdotes from his own nerdy love-life provide ample compensation.
What Is Love Anyway?
Until 19 November
There is a slight feeling of Herring-by-numbers about some of the show. In his pedantic reaction to the dry cleaners whose slogan is "We love our customers", or his denial that a child's feelings for its parents constitute love, Herring's trademark nitpicking is an end in itself, and undermines any convincing argument. And once again, he dredges up the amusing writings of his teenage self in this instance a pompous poem about a sexed-up lad whom virginal Richard encountered on a trans-European InterRail train.
But if there's not exactly a shock of the new, Herring's disquisition on love is reliably entertaining. There's the awkward dream-come-true tale of his romance with actor Julia Sawalha, his obsession with whom featured prominently on his TV show Fist of Fun. There's a barnstorming set-piece about a Valentine's gesture gone wrong, which as he details in ever more apocalyptic imagery has locked Herring into buying galactic quantities of Ferrero Rocher by the year 2020. Not for the first time, Herring ends the gig with a sermon, reconstructing the myths and sentimentality he earlier ruthlessly demolished. Not a lovable show, but very easy to like.