Thursday, January 20, 2011

Christ On A Mic

I had a dream the other night - one of those long, expansive, drawn-out dreams that goes on for hours and hours - and the sole event within it was me explaining to someone particularly argumentative just how intelligent Richard Herring is.

"Really?" said the faceless antagonist. "But I've listened to his podcast. He just says the rudest possible thing he can think of at any point. That's not intelligent. That's just being childish and reactionary."

"No, no!" I insisted, probably waving a deliciously lit cigarette furiously just to infuriate myself on recollecting the dream because my subconscious is just that kind of bastard, "It's more than that. Look, it's like... OK, like on his blog, OK?" Yeah, take that, subconscious! I made you sound inarticulate! "Like, on his blog, he'll write about something that I've thought about that's happened that day, but he'll say something that's a lot more intelligent than what I've come up with, and he'll make it funny, and he does it every day. He's a bloody clever bloke."

"Ah, I see," replied the tetchy dream-dweller, chewing on a cheroot to make a point of some sort, "so what you're telling me is he's more intelligent than you, which, let's face it, plants him firmly in the centre of a very inexclusive group containing much of the human population, and a fair whack of the animal population too. Also, that you clearly fancy him."

"I really don't!" I whined at this point, stamping my foot right through the sodden cardboard base of the dream into the top of my conscious brain, and up I most suddenly woke.

Richard Herring had a dream too, full of gods and mythical creatures and Christ on a bike. And verily, he came forth to the Leicester Square theatre to share that dream with his new disciples, one of which was unemployed, one of which was Michael Legge, and one of which was me. Richard Herring's dream was of a hubristic Christ, a possible Cheddar-based messiah, but most importantly, his dream was goddamn funny.

Richard Herring is not the messiah: he's a very naughty boy.

(May I just interject on myself at this point? Why, certainly! No-one has made that gag, as far as I can see, in any review of this show on the whole bloody internet. That can only mean one of three things. 1) Herring makes it himself in the show and I've forgotten and no-one would be so crass as to nick it for their own review; 2) I'm a bona fide MacArthur Grant-level genius; 3) it's a shit joke. Answers on a postcard, as long as it's got 3 written on it)

Well, not the messiah according to the audience anyway, polled at the end of a journey taking in Jesus' similarity to both The Fonz and Trigger from Only Fools and Horses, the problems of quantifying transubstantiation in terms of units of whole bodies, and why The Bible should probably have been more thoroughly proofread. It's when deconstructing the ridiculous inconsistencies within the Gospels and overwrought list-making tendencies of the jealous, passive-aggressive, arrogant Old Testament God that Herring gets the biggest laughs; you'd be hard-pressed not to get carried away with him, as his frustration with the absurdity of it all builds into a tsunami of spittle-flecked comedic rage. As one dampened front-rower wryly remarked at the bar during the interval: "He should probably call his next show Richard Herring Gets You Wet."

There's cock jokes too, as is traditional, and echoes of Stewart Lee, although more suggesting a common ancestor evolving into two different comedic styles than any kind of sneaking peeks at each other's answer papers. And for anyone who had a deathly dull childhood spent in church every Sunday, parroting prayers without any consideration for their meaning, there's the mother of all Proustian rushes over the words "Let us give thanks to the Lord our God; it is right to give him thanks and praise." The sheer effort of will to not automatically "offer each other a sign of peace" at this moment, forcing everyone around me into a sudden and unwanted clammy handshake, almost made me implode.

It was a good show. A great show. But at the end, I did feel a little disappointed. I wanted more. It felt like there was so much more to say. "Come on, Rich!" I wanted to jump up and hoot. "We've barely scraped the surface here! All that doctrine, all those people following blindly... Tell me more about what you think about Jesus the man versus Jesus the messiah. Let me crawl into your head. I spent a whole bloody dream defending you, you sandalled beast! I could have used that dreamtime to tumble out of moving planes to my never-quite-arriving grisly fate, or nearly get the chance to kiss some fabulous fantasy figure before being interrupted at the last minute! Don't prove me right with your intelligent handling of 2,000 years of religious idiocy then leave me hanging after 90 minutes just because you're a comedian and it's only a comedy show, not a personal lecture series for me and me alone!"

Is that an endorsement? If it's not, I've failed. Please, just make up your own one. A good evening of comedy that makes you think, and not just about whether God would give his only son a knee-grazer, or if he was more of a "Knowest thou this: the size of the vessel matters not when you are the One Lord and God of all the seas of the Hea'ens and Earth" kinda guy? There's something to start you off. Two nights left in London, then everywhere, everywhere.

PS. So I went to Herring's gig on my own. But it's OK, because I asked Twitter if that was acceptable behaviour, and they said it was. And Laura Barnard, her of the epic graphical designage talent and excellent face and head and body and mind and soul, even wrote me a note that I could produce with a flourish if any askance looks were cast in my direction, which, of course, they weren't, because, of course, who cares? We're all going to die someday.

Anyway, I was going to ask Mr Herring to sign it, but chickened out. The vision appeared before me of trying to explain to a disinterested comedian about this self-involved "joke" that had nothing to do with him (with no offence to the wonderful Ms Lau's illustration) while behind me queues of genuinely deserving fans fumed over their free programmes, and it was not a good look. So I thought, instead, I'd write a self-involved review of someone else's show. Yuh-huh. Gotta get me, me, me, I, me, me, myself in there somewhere, friends!

1 comment:

BPP said...

His Hitler show was shit.