STV review of WILA

Does Richard Herring make his Fringe show impossible to love?

Fringe review: The assured raconteur is on fine form at his new show at Udderbelly's Cowbarn, where he seeks to dispense with the myth of true romance.

By Michael MacLennan

10 August 2011 14:02 GMT

Does Richard Herring make his Fringe show impossible to love?

Love me not: Richard Herring has strong views about the subject

After last year lacerating religion, this year Richard Herring is putting the boot into love. (What’s next on his hit-list, the sense of satisfaction from giving money to charity? Well, given that the comedian is as usual providing free programmes in an admirable attempt to raise funds for Scope, probably not.)

During that 2010 show he noticed the audience got strangely silent when he moved on from sucking out the floor beneath God-botherers to address those who have the temerity to believe in true romance.

It's a typical Herring show: the Fringe veteran is fact-paced with his spritely and sardonic delivery, still not one to pass up an opportunity or two for purile amusement. Herring's constantly operating a step ahead of where most of his peers would be treading at that particular moment in their set.

The story of how his parents met figures heavily, as does the make-or-break nature of the relationship with his current girlfriend. (Though the way he speaks lovingly about her it doesn't really feel as though he should seem quite so undecided, the silly fool.) His obsession with Julia Sawalha – familiar to any of those who were fans of his and Stewart Lee's brilliant 90s show Fist of Fun – is extrapolated, examined and its full realization picked apart in an attempt to puncture the idea of Cupid's bow having any sort of effect at all.

Such a show is always going to have a certain poignancy about it, though any possibility of sliding into complete soppiness is unceremoniously extinguished as soon as Herring appears to be aware of it.

Anyone familiar with his podcasts knows that he's an expertly witty raconteur, and an hour in his hands is never going to be too much of a chore, even if the atmosphere seems dampened somewhat. (From the back of the venue it’s hard to tell if that’s to do with the lofty confines of the Cowbarn, the spectators recovering from being soaked in the grim weather outside, or the fact that the material doesn’t quite take grip in the manner of previous shows.) The love affair with Herring isn’t over yet, even if he himself thinks it never actually started in the first place.