Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dairy good


Last March, Stewart Lee came to Chapter to film a DVD of his '90s Comedian' show. Now his former comedy partner Richard Herring has decided to follow suit, enlisting the services of independent Chapter-based DVD production company Go Faster Stripe and resurrecting his 2005 Edinburgh show 'Someone Likes Yoghurt' before the cameras and a select few punters - ourselves included.

Herring launches straight into a routine about Rudyard Kipling's 'If', carefully unpicking and taking issue with it with his familiar dogged persistence and incision. Unfortunately, it's not particularly funny and makes for a fairly flat and disappointing opening to the show.

It's not until he moves onto the second section, where there are some easier laughs about The Monkees having sex with monkeys, that he starts to hit his stride, making much more of the material than most comics would. The careful and exhaustive analysis of the magpie-related nursery rhyme 'One For Sorrow, Two For Joy' which follows is equally clever and hilarious. Somewhere in there Jimmy Carr is dismissed as having "no moral compass", and Peter Kay is amusingly caricatured as a comedian who "talks about things from the 1970s and school that you thought you'd forgotten but hadn't really", while subtle references to "skelingtons" and Tony Blairs" are worked in for the benefit of comedy nerds like myself.

By the time Herring gets to the fourth section of the first half, he has the bit firmly between his teeth, savaging Catholicism to brilliant effect. It's a reminder of the intelligence that underpins his most offensive and puerile observations, and of his ability to make sharp satirical points even with the bluntest of instruments. Despite having performed the show once already tonight, his energy levels are high and there's a real sense of performance in the way he harangues members of the audience (even a 16-year-old girl, on the subject of sperm the size of trout...), introducing an element of confrontation. Like Lee he is unafraid of making people feel uncomfortable - indeed it often seems to be his objective.

Herring too enjoys reflecting upon and dissecting the way comedy works as part of his act, as is most evident in the second part of the show, and the material that gives it its name. We witnessed an early prototype version of the yoghurt diatribe two years ago, and not much has changed except for its elongation and the addition of some clever references back to material from the first half of the show. As an exercise in wringing out as much humour as possible from an ostensibly trivial incident, it's perhaps slightly self-indulgent but, in fairness, also essentially the sort of thing he does as a matter of routine, albeit taken to an extreme - and, though it tries some people's patience, I'm laughing along heartily throughout.


SWSL interview with Richard Herring

SWSL review of Herring's 2004 Edinburgh show 'The Twelve Tasks Of Hercules Terrace'

Herring's thoughts on the two Chapter shows on his blog Warming Up

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