Richard Herring: Christ on a Bike at the King's Theatre Cheddar on 5th April 2011
By IconoGlast | Sunday, April 10, 2011, 18:59
A hometown gig for Richard Herring at the King¬ís Theatre in Cheddar near Wells, is always going to be a superlative event, as with Richard's parents in the audience there is not just the show to enjoy but the added hilarity of watching them squirm at some of his more controversial material, and if last year¬ís Hitler¬ís Moustache wasn¬ít enough, a show about God, Christ and the Bible from an athiest perspective might do the trick.
On this occasion, I think Richard¬ís mother only has herself to blame, as in a family argument she once challenged "if you don't believe in Jesus why do you spend so much time thinking about him?" and this show is a result of that.
Christ on a bike: The Second Coming isn't a new Herring show but a resurrection and revamp of his first ever solo Edinburgh show from a decade ago, Christ on a Bike. As the name suggests there¬ís a religious theme, and some may take offence at it purely from it¬ís title, but unless you've actually seen the show, the exact content is a mystery. But is it Satan's work? I think not, as while Richard certainly had a devilish smirk on his face at various junctures throughout the performance, in reality this show is just a clever though at times juvenile deconstruction of the life of Jesus as well as some of the absurder parts of the New and Old Testament, through the eyes of a man trying to make sense of his upbringing.
Richard confesses to being an atheist, and although he was brought up in a religious family in which both his aforementioned parents are practicing Christians, yet praise the Lord the show is not another vitriolic rant against religion (plenty of comedians have done that to death) but rather just an impish dig at the inconsistencies in the contents of the Bible, and while it may possibly annoy some that certainly isn't the point and definitely not Richard¬ís intention; his tactic is to make us think about the material in a lighthearted manner; and it works too.
It¬ís a mixed bag. Some of the material (especially during the quicker paced second half) is delivered in a manner that reminds me of his old sparring partner, Stewart Lee, especially an extended piece that evolved from a letter of complaint he received from Brazil which describes a fatal car crash in which only the boot remains intact which he deconstructs to the nth degree with the aid of repetition.
Meanwhile the opening passage of the New Testament (Matthew 1) is given short shrift as Richard dissects the genealogical table of Jesus Christ, and who begat whom which is projected onto a screen behind him as he does so. As if this wasn't enough he then impressively proceeded to recite the whole chapter word perfectly (a challenge which he informs us took him 4 days to master), although he said he was helped by his ability to break this down into memory-aid acronyms (which he then too proceeded to recite word perfectly). Without wishing to sound pedantic I do feel fit to remind him here that what he was using were initialisms not acronyms.
Furthermore Richard mocks some of the Biblical names "Booz of Rachab" being one. As he says, are there really enough Boozes in the World to warrant the of Rachab clarification? All very boyish and unnecessary but great value for money all the same. Dream sequences about an imaginary bike race between himself and Jesus (hence the title) in which in order to win he nails Jesus to a tree, and a reworking of God¬ís over wordy Ten Commandments are all hilarious and the audience was laughing along appreciatively throughout. And while Richard does not profess to be the new Messiah (he¬íll leave us to make our minds up about that), he demonstrates he really is a very naughty boy!