Richard Herring: I’d be flattered if God even knew who I was
Friday 11 Apr 2014
I have made it most of the way through my latest tour, We’re All Going To Die!, with just eight gigs to go (DVD record at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London on May 23). Some might think it was fatalistic to do a show that laughs in Death’s skellington face. I have seen all of the Final Destination films and they suggest the Grim Reaper does not like to be cheated or mocked and so I secretly feared him sneaking up and fingering me. I know, it sounds like fun. But his digits are bony and icy and his technique is very clumsy.
I confidently predict that I will get through this tour unscathed and furthermore proclaim that I will never die. I don’t know the meaning of the word hubris. Which is a shame as tomorrow I am taking part in a ‘define the meaning of the word hubris’ competition. I’m not worried. I am definitely going to win anyway.
Some people think you shouldn’t tempt fate but they’re living under the arrogant presumption that even if fate existed (which it doesn’t) it would give a flying fig about someone so insignificant.
Do you really think you can change the course of the universe merely by uttering some banality like ‘nothing can possibly go wrong’? Are death, fate and deities really so petty as to stop what they’re doing in order to teach nonentities like us a lesson? ‘I am the all-powerful creator of the universe but I just heard a talking monkey take my name in vain. I am going to stop everything I am doing and punish him.’
Occasionally, after making comments like that, I will get an email from a concerned Christian. They always quote the same Biblical passage (I don’t know if there’s a template complaint letter at the back of every Bible). It comes from Galatians 6:7 – actually, that’s not even in the Bible, it’s a 1980s video game so surely has no moral authority.
In any case, it says: ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked for whatsoever a man sow, that shall he also reap.’
If I reap what I sow, won’t God just take the p*** out of me back? I’d be flattered that He even knew who I was.
Last week in Shrewsbury I wondered if there might be something in it. Just as I said ‘unless you believe in the afterlife, in which case grow up’, the theatre plunged into darkness. The electricity had tripped out. I was a bit shaken but given all the weapons He had to hand, this seemed a petty attempt at divine retribution. It wasn’t the usual plague-based vengeance.
I also knew there was something properly blasphemous coming up, so why had God shot his bolt so early? Then, as I described something too religiously delicate for a family newspaper (or Metro), with perfect comic timing the electricity failed again. It was an eerie coincidence. Or not. Depending on your point of view.
I challenged God to make the lighting rig fall on me and gingerly stood beneath it. But God decided He’d made his point and disappeared off to orchestrate an earthquake or flood or invent a new virus. He has His hands full and He can’t be everywhere at once.
I guess this at least proves that if there is a God then He has a sense of humour. Which is good. Even if part of His hilarious joke is to see me burning in Hell for all eternity. No one said his jokes aren’t dark. Just ask Job.