Venue magazine four star review of Talking Cock
It’s Richard Herring’s eye-catching ‘Talking Cock’ show that people have come to see, however, and unless anyone really has come hoping for a ‘ventriloquist show’ (as Herring suggests at the start), it’s hard to imagine a more satisfying hour on that theme. It’s a revival of a show from ten years ago, but much of the material is new, coming as it does from a large, anonymous online survey that Herring started in 2001 and refreshed just recently. It asks men questions like ‘have you ever tried to make your erect penis size bigger?’ and ‘where have you put your penis for fun?’, and women questions like ‘does size matter?’ and ‘have you ever openly laughed at a man’s genitals?’. The answers to these questions form the bulk (snigger) of the show, a cathartic, often hilarious, sometimes wince-inducing, sometimes serious examination of the cock from all angles (guffaw).
There are some brilliant revelations from the survey, of course, including a man who admits to putting his penis in a toilet roll full of jelly, a woman who laughed with uncontained relief when she realised the blood on her sheets was coming from her partner’s penis and not from her, and a man whose parents used to put a glow-in-the-dark Jesus figure at the foot of his bed to stop him masturbating. Herring handles the material with consummate skill and no small degree of tact - we’re never far away from a laugh, but he treats the more serious confessions with dignity and sometimes avoids jokes for short periods to this end (end! arf!). His blokey but self-reflective persona is the ideal guide to this taboo-laden area, and the show really does deliver on its promise as a men’s ‘Vagina Monologues’, without ever coming close to hateful, anti-feminist ‘men’s rights’ terrritory. It’s ultimately a joyous celebration of all things penissy, be they big, small, straight, wonky, shy or bursting with pride (ouch). Men and women will leave with plenty to talk about, though this may cause some embarrassed silences on the way home.