“ Underbelly / 56 Cowgate (entrances on Cowgate and Victoria Street) / Edinburgh. 03 Aug 2007 - 27 Aug 2007. „
Richard Herring finally understands the meaning of the phrase over the hill. As he explains in his new show, which fuses comedy with serious depression, people spend four decades running up the hill, eager to get to the top, only to see that the other side is a steep and treacherous icy wasteland leading to inevitable death. As he looks back towards all the young people and missed opportunities he was too busy to notice on his climb, he is manhandled into a toboggan and sent hurtling towards his grave, still clutching in his hand a browning clump of grass from his attempt to remain behind with people of his own imagined age.
For Richard, this handful of decaying grass has manifested itself in his recent desire to wear figure-hugging clothes and jeans like young people and the acquisition of a skateboard, which he genuinely attempts to ride and perform with during the show in the hope of a fluke victory. Comparing himself to all his middle-aged friends and the achievements of his own father at that age, Richard has become convinced that he has wasted his life in his stupid profession, talking about genitals and yoghurt when he should have been marrying and spawning little minnows (that was a sort of fish joke, because of his name). It cant have helped that his erstwhile double act partner Stewart Lee has secretly married and had a son since his last appearance at the festival, while Richard has spent the year exhaustively touring his last show in which he invites any girls in the audience to have a threesome with him afterwards. A whole year later and another need still unfulfilled.
Richard Herrings stand-up continues to improve all the time, since his return to solo performances several years ago. Despite his claims to the contrary, the immature, virginal character he portrayed in his Lee and Herring days has been left far behind, replaced with an angry and bitter middle-aged man whose sexual exploits provide more embarrassment than pride, particularly in one revealing confession within the new show. As usual, many of Richards routines have their genesis in his daily weblog Warming Up at RichardHerring.com, an extensive bank of creative observations on events that happened each day that are just waiting to be mined for stand-up material. One of the most memorable events in the comedians recent life was his involvement in a pathetic brawl with a Maths lecturer in Liverpool, which may not become a firm staple of the constantly evolving performance but was even more entertaining to hear on stage than it was to read in the first place. Fortunately for dedicated fans, theres a large amount of original material as was the case with his last show, and as the show develops each day from the experimental previews to the proper full-price tickets starting this week, routines are dropped or added on a daily basis.
This new show moves far beyond the random, pointless targets of Richards first solely stand-up show Someone Likes Yoghurt, which dealt with those issues of Rudyard Kipling, the Magpie theme tune and yoghurt that were popular in 2005 but now seem largely irrelevant in our 2007 climate, instead expanding on the too-much-information honesty of last years extensively toured menáge à un to the point that the on-stage Richard Herring, increasingly indistinguishable from the real-life Richard Herring, has become a tragic figure. Its an interesting direction to take with stand-up, the balance between depression and humour, and whatever the ultimate moral may be, developing with each performance as Richard learns it himself. Firmly entrenched in a mid-life crisis, Richards weblog provides a characteristically honest account of his embarrassing activities and ideologies, the more entertaining and relevant of which will inevitably find their way into the show during the Fringe and on the national tour. As a veteran comedian who knows more about comedy than you do, Richard also takes time to explore current issues of racism and terrorism from his apparently trademarked slightly unusual angle, and undertakes some enjoyable birthday party theatrics in the shows introduction that may be dropped from the show if he runs out of balloons.
Oh F*ck, Im 40! plays at the White Belly at the top of the Smirnoff Underbelly from 2nd to 26th August (not 14th) at 8.20pm, lasting one hour. Prices are £9.50 to £10.50 (£8.00 to £9.00 concessions). Richard Herrings previous shows are now available on DVD, along with those of other non-mainstream comedians, from gofasterstripe.com.
Next review: Stewart Lee 41st Best Stand-Up Ever!
Underbelly on Cowgate is the original Underbelly and the thriving home to some of the best talent and bars in town. 'Make a pilgrimage to Underbelly' Scotsman. 'A vertical Glastonbury, every nook filled with bohemian activity' Telegraph. Bars 'til 4am.