Scotsman review of WAGTD

Comedy review: Richard Herring

Published by Edinburgh Festivals
24 Aug 2013
Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: Richard Herring – We’re All Going to Die! at Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), reviewed by Jay Richardson
Death is the only thing more certain than taxes and Richard Herring putting together a compelling, big-theme Fringe hour. Although he contemplates Hamlet’s famous soliloquy and inevitably, finds it lacking, the undiscovered country is not up for speculation: there’s nothing once we pass over he avers.
His atheist viewpoint established, he exploits death for all it’s worth, drawing wicked comparison between the lives of Ben Elton and John Keats and suggesting the only reason he got married is because he knows there is sweet release on the horizon.
The problem of explaining death to kids prompts a damning character assassination of God and witty evocation of a Heaven with a permeable admissions policy, before a typical bit of Herring having his cake and eating it – he won’t respond to fundamentalists who think anyone who jumped from the burning Twin Towers committed suicide and are thus going to Hell.
But if he did respond, he would say it like this… We’re all egotists who struggle to imagine life continuing without us, he maintains, but overlooking Herring’s now customary masturbation material, he becomes agitated imagining his obituary on the Chortle website, gleefully rattling through a series of headline puns that will probably be guaranteed at least one usage when he finally shuffles off his mortal coil.
Although he doesn’t linger on the recent passing of his grandmother, there is poignancy in the experiences of death he once shared with comedy writer Peter Baynham, reflecting that there’s absolutely nothing comedians won’t joke about in each other’s company.
A couple of set-pieces, focused on a scarcely credible magazine that tries to make the Holocaust seem as mundane as train-spotting, and the childhood nursery rhyme, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly, feel really tangential. Only the first is worthwhile; the latter’s predictable, and rather interminably drags out the end of the show. But that’s a minor quibble and as Herring concludes his tenth solo hour at the Fringe, you’re forced to reflect that there is plenty of life in the old dog yet.