The Groggy Squirrel reviews OFIF
2007 Edinburgh Fringe
Richard Herring – Oh Fuck, I’m 40
Robert Wringham – 23 August 2007
When you die, Richard Herring reckons, you go into a big room filled with judgemental babies. Each baby represents a potential sperm/egg combination that never made it into reality and you must justify your existence to each and every one of them, one at a time.
“Why did you watch the Hollyoaks Sunday omnibus for three and a half hours when you’d already watched them all individually at 6:30 on weeknights?” one of the babies will lament before claiming that he could have found the cure for cancer if only he’d been given the chance of life.
This, of course, only happens after a long trek up a hill of life; a clinging to the shaggy grass at the apex and a final descent “over the hill”, through death into the infinite abyss.
Does everyone think along these lines when they reach middle age or is it just Richard Herring? I imagine that everyone has similar anxieties about their uselessness or their lack of achievement but Herring’s surreal imagination somehow results in an afterlife room of a billion talking babies.
This isn’t a comfortable thought for Richard, who confesses early in the show to being a “Paedophobe”: an aging individual who hates children but is mysteriously not championed by our paedophile-hating “whorish coquette” of a society.
If you’re a Herring fan you’ll really enjoy this year’s show. It’s precisely what you’ll expect: more self-depreciation; more bizarre sexual confessions; a childish pushing of the boundaries of taste; and pedantic analyses of things that nobody else would think about for more than five seconds. Particularly rewarding is a discussion of a t-shirt depicting the slogan, “Give me head, ‘til I’m dead”. As you might imagine, this bit goes on for quite a long time.
It’s all good stuff though and another example of Rich doing exactly what he does best. It’s impossible to imagine but he seems to be more “Richard Herring” with every passing year. How much higher he can turn up this volume remains to be seen but, as ever, he’ll keep going until people start walking out. Didn’t they understand that this was a test of endurance?
It’s become a sort of Fringe tradition: going to Herring’s gigs to see what outrage he’ll cause this time. We’ve already seen a show entirely dedicated to the comedic institute of ‘knob-gags’; a one-hour show about his yoghurt addiction; a piece of one-man theatre in which he proves that he is Jesus; and a show in which he reports his experiences of trying to out-do Hercules. His career is an ongoing pushing of the limits and just when you think he must have approached a fever pitch, he reveals a new cul-de-sac of childish experimentation. How he’ll top ‘Oh Fuck I’m 40’ next year is anyone’s guess but I imagine that he’ll implode somehow like a supermassive star finally inverting and turning into a black hole.
Imagine that! A chubby, aging comedian literally turning into a quantum singularity and sucking everyone out of the room into a void of nothingness. Fringe 2008. You’ll see. It’s the only place Richard Herring can go now.
Oh Fuck, I’m 40 at the Underbelly (White Belly).