Young Perspective review of OFI50

Richard Herring: Frig! I’m 50 (Pleasance Courtyard, 19.30)

Richard Herring is 50. You can tell because he says it in his show title, the one that sounds like the title of a debut hour by someone who took up stand-up as a midlife crisis. What I’m saying is I really dislike the name of this show. Luckily, however, is that’s about the only thing I didn’t like about it.

For many years, Herring has been a poster boy for alternative comedy, but in this hour, having turned 50 and had a child, he comes perilously close to Peter Kay-esque blandness, however I is saved by the fact that he has realised this, and works against it. A routine mocking Kay’s desire just to remember things from his childhood, involving classic toys being stored in the vaginal cavities of the audiences collective mother’s is beautifully, perversely good, and an inspired set of observations on his daughter’s penguin race toy is damn near majestic, every line adding to the absurdity of what should be an easy observational bit. That’s what Herring has always been so good at, taking stand-up clichés and turning them on their head, and it’s just as apparent here.

There is a unique beauty in Herring’s eye for taking the mundane and making it absurd, perfectly exemplified in a routine about playing with a daughter’s doll that lead to a rant on uses for time travel. For most comics this would be a major gambit, a long stretch, but for someone with Herring’s thirty year experience and talent, it comes across as marvellously simple.

The only real issue is that, on the night I saw him, the theatre itself was half empty, meaning a lot of gags purely didn’t get the response they deserved, and large swathes of the show were oddly quiet. This begs the question of whether the reviewer is there to review the performance, or the show as a whole, which involves the response of the audience. For if it is purely the performance, then this show is masterful, even if it could very much do with a title change.