On line review of Someone Likes Yoghurt from Mind the Gag
Richard Herring - Someone Likes Yoghurt!
Wednesday 29 June 2005
Etcetera Theatre, Oxford Arms, 265 Camden High Street, London NW1
Before the gig Richard Herring kindly gave away free copies of the programme for Someone Likes Yoghurt! to the audience waiting on the stairs. This was a good start, and a good way to get the audience on your side, as it's a very good programme, with lots of jokes, and even more information about yoghurt.
Someone Likes Yoghurt! is his first purely first stand-up show for quite a few years, after the themed shows he has performed recently, such as The Twelve Tasks of Hercules Terrace (see our review) and Talking Cock. This was a preview for his run of the show at The Edinburgh Festival in August. He begins proceedings with a routine about why he thinks that Rudyard Kipling is an idiot (particularly his first name), and that his famous poem If is seriously flawed. This contained a great joke reference to Grange Hill, which not everyone got. He goes on to explain how taking If seriously could entail celebrating disasters such as "11/9".
The next part of the show is about how important the lyrics are to pop songs. All it would take, he argues, is a slight tweak of the lyrics of some classic tunes to change their meaning entirely (particularly songs by The Monkees). Merely changing the words so that a song is about abusing monkeys would probably hamper their chances of being hummed by the general public. Which is probably true if you think about it.
He then points out the flaws in what he calls "The Magpie Reward System", referring to the old rhyme about the amount of magpies you see together meaning you would get a particular thing; i.e. one for sorrow, two for joy etc. He rails against the unfairness and arbitrary nature of the system whereby seeing one extra magpie gives you joy instead of sorrow. He suggests some new rewards, such as gonorrhea (don't see seven magpies if you can help it), and extending the system beyond the measly ten where the rhyme traditionally ends.
He then moves on to a routine about the pope, and religion in general. He obviously has strong views on closed belief systems such as Catholicism (and the Magpie Reward System) and seems to get quite into the satirical mood as he reads out his application to the Vatican to be the new pope. There are some hilarious lines about the rules of Christianity, and how he would change them should he get the job.
He seems to be trying hard to be controversial (and succeeding) but only in order to make a serious point. He makes some funny points about Catholics' attitiude to sex and to women, and to double standards within the Church. Several times he says "I don't want to offend any Catholics in the audience" whilst in the middle of a routine which could easily offend Christians of any denomination. But the point seems to be to show the inherent flaws in religion while making a room full of people laugh hysterically, and in this he succeeds extremely well.
He then turns to his (in)famous Baby Pie routine. In his weblog Warming Up he mentions occasions when audience members have walked out during this piece. On this occasion one person did walk out; not because they were offended, but because they wanted to get a drink. I can see how this could be considered slightly offensive, but it's delivered in such a fairy-tale, well intentioned way, I 'd have to wonder why the offended person was at a comedy gig in the first place. There's a lovely false ending to this routine, and then it moves seamlessly into a piece about what fantasies you're allowed to have.
Eventually Mr Herring gets to the bit about yoghurt, which gives this show it's name. Apparently, he was in his local supermarket buying nine yoghurts, and the checkout assistant made a comment along the lines of "someone likes yoghurt" in what he perceived to be a rather judgmetal way. He wonders why they should comment on his yoghurt consumption, which he considers merely average. He would never, for example, have a bath in yoghurt, or so he claims. He proceeds to do a whole long routine protesting his non-obsession with yoghurt, while of course making the audience think the exact opposite, and getting more laughs out of yoghurt-based material than this reviewer had thought possible. He did at one point "forget a good bit", and rather endearingly go back and do it all again. It was a good bit though.
Due to various bits of ad libbing and going back over bits that were forgotten the show did overrun a bit, but eventually he decided the end had been reached and that was that. It was an extremely funny and occasionally thought-provoking show by an excellent performer. He managed to keep the whole audience engaged for well over an hour in a very hot, small room merely by talking about Rudyard Kipling, magpies and yoghurt. And not just anyone can do that.
Richard Herring is performing Someone Likes Yoghurt at The Pleasance Above at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 29 August. He is also performing Just The Yoghurt at The Pleasance on 24, 25 and 27 August. His website is at www.richardherring.com.