Rotherham Advertiser review of Happy Now?

Published date: 24 February 2016 | Published by: Michael Upton

YOU might think a comedian becoming a parent might cause them to lose their “edge”, and the obvious devotion Richard Herring has for his daughter certainly leaves the door open for sentimentality to creep in.

But anyone familiar with Herring’s work will know there is no real worry that his material has gone soft, especially when his new show — musings on the theoretical and realistic possibilities of true happiness — begins with a graphic account of how the “most beautiful day” of his life turned out to be anything but.

And an early routine exploring the hideous ways in which his brain suggests his infant daughter could be horribly killed demonstrates that the serial podcaster, columnist and former TV star is a long way from swearing off the unsayable.

So we hear unashamed analysis of bodily functions, discussions (with Herring switching from one “part” to another) of the morality of sex with robots and other inanimate objects and even an assessment of the potential fallout from being speared by a stalactite of frozen urine.

So far, so Richard Herring. And I mean that in a good way.

Herring’s MO has always been the process of taking an idea or an anomaly and stretching it to breaking point, sometimes devilishly saying the extremely rude for extra comic effect.

This is certainly not a show for the easily shocked or disgusted, but it’s also poignant and sweet, blending the filthy and horrific with the personal and affectionate.

As a father of pre-school children, Herring’s account of the bittersweet experience of life as a new father certainly struck a chord with me, exploding the myth of the magic of childbirth (which is, let’s face it, often about agonising pain) and skewering the downright cruel lyrics of nursery rhymes and children’s songs in probably the show’s standout routine.

Sliding from poignant reflection to full-blown furious polemic, Herring is at his best when highlighting and poking fun at the everyday and mundane.

A comprehensive deconstruction of a poorly-worded doormat, a wince-inspiring anaylsis of a lacivious T-shirt slogan and a convincing argument that public opinion on Marmite is not as black-and-white as the advertisers suggest are all especially memorable, and I’ll never look at a Twix the same way again.

Herring, whose 2009 show Hitler Moustache signed off with a reading from an unexpected source damning fascism, retreads that route seven years later with another particularly thought-provoking excerpt on parenthood from another famous name.

Happy Now? A decent-sized City Hall crowd certainly seemed so, and the wealth of comic value in this near-two-hour show suggests neither Herring’s sharp mind nor his “edge” have been blunted by his cute new arrival.