Manchester City Life reviews COAB

Richard Herring: Christ on a Bike - The Second Coming
By Sarah Walters | Wed, 30 March, 2011

Richard Herring: Christ On A Bike
Frog And Bucket
March 29, 2011

Watching a Richard Herring show is a little like being 45 and playing with a Scalextric; thereÂ’s something inappropriate about it, but it still feels like such honest good fun.

One reason why Herring (Lee and Herring, Time Gentleman Please, Little Britain) has a juvenile charm is the subjects he chooses for his one-man shows. Last year, it was taking up a hair-raising dare to grow a Hitler-style moustache; this year, itÂ’s the Bible.

It seems like an incredibly easy target for an Anglican-raised boy turned atheist like Herring to go at, but even on a subject as widely ridiculed as religion Herring manages to find his own unique ground.

And that is more of a challenge than you might imagine, because Christ On A Bike is a resurrection of a 10-year-old solo show. The script recounts how, aged 33 (spookily, he asserts, at the same age as Jesus died) he had a surreal two-part dream about being challenged to a cycle race by Jesus.

A dream is a tenuous hook for a show, even if the narrative is entirely true, but it opens up unusual opportunities to poke fun at organised religion (“How many times would you have to attend Holy communion before you’ve eaten a whole Jesus?” he poses) and most impressively to pick holes in the glaring inconsistencies between the disciples’ gospels and Christ’s supposed genetic lineage.

Herring’s familiarity with the Biblical stories, drummed into him by his father Keith and delivered here at breakneck speed, occasionally take for granted that the audience are equally au fait with the intricacies of the New Testament. Which means that the second half of the set – a new diatribe based on a stack of emails from Christian objectors to the show – gets the lion’s share of the laughs.

Language is HerringÂ’s passion, and he cracks open the idiosyncrasies of each authorÂ’s email with a wrecking ball, devastatingly dissecting the peculiarities of their grammar and their arguments.

ItÂ’s enough to make you go home and compose a falsely angry email to see if you can stir his bile in a future show on this 95 date tour.