Spoonfed review of COAB

Edinburgh Review: Richard Herring - Christ on a Bike: The Second Coming


08 August, 2010
by: Emma

Richard Herring resurrects his Christ show from 2001. Emma McAlpine is rather reverent.

Running almost 30 minutes late on preview night, Fringe favourite Richard Herring still gets a warm reception for his ninth solo show, or should I say eighth, as Christ on a Bike: The Second Coming is actually a rework of his first and favourite solo piece from 2001. However, with an impressive cannon of 27 Edinburgh shows behind him; no one is going to quibble over this minor detail and, as he told us during a recent interview, it’s highly likely most of the audience won’t have seen it first time round anyway.

Aged 43, now ten years older than Jesus was when he died, Herring has become obsessed with the story of Christ; particularly its flaws and contradictions. What happened to all that gold, frankincense and myrrh that Joseph and Mary were given for instance – wouldn’t it have been the modern-day equivalent of a rollover lottery win? And why did Jesus allow a prostitute to wash his feet with her hair?

During the show, he deconstructs the text of the bible to a hilarious degree, highlighting the absurdity of the 10 Commandments and the genealogy of the New Testament; at one point reciting such an impressive verbatim passage that I have to steal a look behind me and check someone isn’t holding up a big card for him to read. There isn’t – it took him three days apparently. Well he is a comedian after all. It then occurs to him that there are quite a few parallels with his life and Christ’s. Is he the new Messiah? Could he be a better Messiah?

Nine years on from his first performance of Christ on a Bike, this show still seems remarkably fresh. Granted, debunking religion might not be that original nowadays but Herring doesn’t approach it from a cynical point of view, he’s trying to understand it, as he says: “What’s my atheism ever done for me?” Of course there’s a bit of lampooning along the way but where as a lot of comics will just ridicule the theology behind Christianity; Herring looks beyond that and attempts to apply its message to his own life.

A combination of thoughtful musings, silly jokes, smart jokes, projector slides and even a surreal dream sequence or two; there is plenty going on in this well-structured narrative. At the end, it’s hard to know what conclusion Herring has come to. Did Jesus ever exist and is he, or is he not, the new Messiah? He leaves it on an ambiguous note.

Either way, it’s been a thoroughly amusing journey.

Richard Herring’s Christ on a Bike: The Second Coming will be at the Assembly Ballroom from 5th-30th August at 21:45pm and his one-off show As It Occurs To Me will be at the Assembly Ballroom on the 17th August at 2pm. For more details visit www.richardherring.com

Herring often takes aim at Christianity - as soft a target as you can find.
If he made similar jibes about Islam he would be targeted and shot. And it would be no great loss.