Guardian review of COAB London

Richard Herring – review

Leicester Square theatre
3 out of 5
o Brian Logan
Tuesday 21 December 2010 22.45 GMT

A lot has changed since Richard Herring premiered his show Christ On a Bike in 2001. The New Atheism movement has arrived to redeem us. Rationalist comedy is all the rage. And Herring is no longer 33 – Jesus's age when he was crucified, and Herring's when he first compared himself on stage to the son of God. But, if both raison d'être and novelty are diluted by the passage of time, this is still an entertaining 90 minutes of Bible-basher bashing. At its best, it pummels soft targets with logic to highly amusing effect.

Herring takes time to hit his stride, and isn't helped by a small, Monday-night crowd. It's as if the audience has been instructed Thou Shalt Merely Titter at his dismayed lit-crit job on the Ten Commandments, while other lines (such as the wannabe Christ-like edict "wank not, lest you be wanked") meet with the silence they deserve. But Herring soon turns this watery response into wine, deploying likably loopy reasoning to argue that Jesus healing 10 lepers wasn't compassionate, but cruelly inadequate.

The end of the show undermines this, as Herring goes soppy about Christianity, arguing that love and democracy are equally faith-based and unverifiable. Well, yes and no. Love is an abstract concept; God either exists or – as per the persuasive lack of evidence – He doesn't. I sympathise with Herring's effort to reclaim historical Jesus from the Christians. But this goodly sermonising pales next to his earlier blunderbuss derision. After his finale is forgotten, the keynote routine, in which Herring first recites by heart, then nit-picks to oblivion the first page of the New Testament, will linger long in the memory.

Until January 22. Box office: 0844 847 2475.