Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News

Celebrity Interview: Richard Herring on The Second Coming

Apr 21 2011 by Oliver Clay, Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News

ONE of BritainÂ’s most respected comics fed the 500 with laughter at The Brindley with his latest show last night.

Christ on a Bike: The Second Coming is a follow up to Richard HerringÂ’s first foray into Biblical musing, Christ on a Bike, which he created 10 years ago.

I spoke to Richard, star of hit shows including Fist of Fun and This Morning With Richard not Judy, to find out if he knew his Abraham from his Ezekiel.

Oliver Clay (OC): So Richard, is the show about Christians or cyclists?

Richard Herring (RH): ItÂ’s mainly about religion and my journey with Jesus but there will be a bit of cycling. You get to see me on an exercise bike.

ItÂ’s about my observations as an atheist who was brought up a Christian and about whether I could be the new Jesus.

OC: WhatÂ’s your own experience of religion?

RH: My parents were Christians and have lived good lives and enjoyed them whereas I feel as if I can be a little selfish. So I wonder if IÂ’m right to try to convince my Dad that God doesnÂ’t exist.

The first part of the show asks why should people spend so much time thinking about him.

OC: Will you try the same thing with the audience?

RH: This show isnÂ’t an attack on religion. You would have to be a humourless Christian to be offended by it and friends of mine who are religious have enjoyed it.

ItÂ’s a well-researched piece with clarity and erudition. I really went through the history of the Bible.

OC: Did you go to the Holy Land?

RH: I didnÂ’t do anything like that.

OC: Why pick this topic?

RH: I was wondering why am I so fascinated with it. When you are brought up in a religious faith but donÂ’t feel it, you can feel like youÂ’re doing something wrong.

However, IÂ’ve always been interested in superstition, unusual phenomena and people like Nostradamus.

But I found even after you turn against religion thereÂ’s still that nagging voice telling you that you are wrong.

OC: So whatÂ’s the problem?

RH: Anyone can interpret it in different ways for different ends. David Cameron is a Christian, and Tony Blair is a Christian and went to war.

Often the Bible feels like the threat of fire is being used to make you do things that arenÂ’t in your interest. The 10 Commandments sound like they were written by someoneÂ’s dad.

Scientists like Richard Dawkins and Richard Wiseman have pointed out that religion works the way parents use Father Christmas to make their children behave.

OC: So should we get rid of it?

RH: Well, it has created moral systems which are good for most people.

And you can see how stories to put people off dangerous situations would benefit – like if a village was near wild animals, it might have made sense to tell your children that the devil lives where there are really lions.

But maybe weÂ’re at the point where we need to realise that weÂ’re in charge.

OC: How do you squeeze the comedy from something that sounds serious?

RH: The Bible has many bits where it contradicts itself, like with JesusÂ’s lineage, which is mapped out in Genesis but doesnÂ’t really matter because he is the son of God.

And no one else seems to have done this topic. There are lots of comedians who do observational stuff and that kind of thing is fine if you like it but I was keen to do a routine that no one else could do.

And donÂ’t worry, itÂ’s had plenty of people in pain with laughter, laughing for 25 minutes or more. ItÂ’s good to make people hurt and laugh.

Richard Herring was at The Brindley last night. The tour continues around the UK until May 21.