Review: Richard Herring: Christ on a Bike, The Stand
Published Date: 28 March 2011
By NEIL McEWAN
Richard Herring: Christ on a Bike ****,
DISAPPOINTINGLY there were none of the protests that greeted Richard Herring's Glasgow shows outside the Stand last night - a little moral outrage adds so much to the anticipation. Instead Herring preached very much to the converted with this show ab
out Jesus, his followers and the uncanny similarities between RH and JC.
Technically this was a resurrection of Herring's first Edinburgh solo show from 2001 and, apart from a few obvious cut-and paste pop culture references you couldn't see the join. The show felt fresh and full of up-to-the-minute sacrilege, although since some of the best gags were hitting 2000-plus-year-old targets topicality might not have been that important.
Herring made clear that Jesus himself wasn't one of his targets. He might not have been won over by the miracles or by the idea of Jesus's divine origins but clearly the philosophy and tenets of his teachings chimed with him. No, the eloquent ire and savagely well-constructed gags were saved for those who claim to speak in his name. Starting with a brilliant put down of Pope Benedict XVI it was clear there was nothing sacred and a lot was going to be profane.
One of the great comedy deconstructionists, Herring took immense pleasure in pulling apart the non sequiturs and nonsense in the Old and New testaments, the highlight of the first half being a sustained rant about the overwriting and livestock obsession in the Ten Commandments and his portrayal of an ad-libbing, irrational and vain creator.
When it comes to ad-libbing Herring is no slouch himself, and while generally he's sure-footed just occasionally he goes down a comedy cul-de-sac as was the case with his strange and borderline slanderous remarks about a fellow comedian, not to mention an overlong piece on emails which even he admitted was filler. Outside of these moments this was a tight and enjoyable show. If Herring had left the Old Testament battered in the first half it was nothing to what he did to the New Testament in the second. Possibly one of the funniest and smartest moments you'll see in comedy was Herring's sketch - a word that doesn't do it justice - on the genealogy of Jesus.
Herring's warmth for the message of Jesus, of peace and tolerance makes it difficult to agree with the placard carriers about his direction in the afterlife. There's no doubt that the audience last night found it an uplifting experience.