Chortle review of Christ on a Bike DVD

Richard Herring's Christ On A Bike
DVD review by Steve Bennett
Richard Herring's Christ On A Bike

When this show was performed in Glasgow on tour, hardline Christian protesters stood outside the venue with placards saying: ‘Richard Herring: The Blasphemous Biker’, which actually seems like a pretty good advertising slogan.

True, if you believe the Bible is the literal word of God, you might have issue with a pedantic atheist picking apart the omnipotent Creator’s clumsy literary style and glaring inconsistencies – but for others it’s a witty, irreverent deconstruction of a text blindly taken as, well, gospel.

Christ On A Bike – reprieved and rewritten last year, a decade after Herring first presented the idea at Edinburgh – is a smart, meticulously researched slice of adolescent cockiness from a rebellious know-it-all still making smart-arse comments about authority figures, even though he’s in his early 40s.

Luckily those lines are often pithily witty, and the whole attitude is tongue-in-cheek. How else would he go down the blasphemy boulevard of inviting speculation that he is, in fact, the Second Coming? After all, he is ‘be-sandaled’ and ‘be-beareded’?

And verily, the true Messiah would surely have a DVD with modest production values, not the swooping cameras, shiny sets and 15ft-high name in lights of certain Apollo comedians.

In contrast, this was shot against a plain black background at LondonÂ’s Leicester Square Theatre, where Herring had a residency this time last year. But where Herring hasnÂ’t scrimped is on DVD extras, with the main two-disc set including a tour diary, an interview, audio recordings of the original 2001 show and a run-in with a drunken Irish Catholic heckler and a preview performance in a London club.

Buy direct from the label Go Faster Stripe, and you even get a third DVD, with another archive performance, another heckler run-in and – intriguingly – a 1999 documentary Richard Herring In Fiji, when he persuaded UK Play to fund a trip to the South Pacific to watch him write a play. It’s difficult to imagine that a broadcaster would commission such a show, with its lo-fi footage, today.

But back to Christ On A Bike. There may be funnier DVDs out this year, but not many as rewarding. Even though Bible-bashing is a comic staple, Herring unleashes some impressive set pieces here, and his jokes and ideas will linger in the mind. Ultimately, he’s too playful to be really harsh on Jesus’s teaching. Dogmatic arrogance – as well as Herring’s own failings – are the targets, and he hits them square-on.

* Richard Herring: Christ On A Bike is out now, priced ÂŁ13.99 from Amazon, or ÂŁ17.50 from Go Faster Stripe with the bonus extra disc.

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