Returning after a two year hiatus, The Free Beer Show presented Richard Herring with an Edinburgh preview and Marcel Lucont in support, compered by Matt Richardson.
Marcel Lucont delivered a beautifully judged set of supercilious character comedy. It is difficult to portray an annoying character without yourself being annoying, but Lucont’s combination of beautifully understated physical comedy and clever wordplay was a joy. The song and poems in the set were a real highlight – his poem about sex in old age was disgusting, funny and had a real sweetness to it.
The gig had a great atmosphere, which is a credit to Richardson’s enthusiastic compering. It’s the kind of place where you can properly talk to strangers and not feel weird. Incidentally, they mean it about the free beer, which might have helped.
Full disclosure: I bloody love Richard Herring. I would describe myself as a fan. In this preview, Herring presented a set of vignettes that will go on to become his Edinburgh show this year. One of the nicest things about Herring’s set was the sense that the audience were a part of it. A few times he pointed out that our feedback was directly shaping the show.
The stories have a very broad frame of reference – from John Donne to Dusty Bin – but are all broadly concerned with themes of ethics. One of Herring's most famous shows, Talking Cock, is about penises. This show seems to be about not being a penis. In a scene still dominated by laddish, just-say-the-worst-thing-I-can-think-of-and-call-it-a-joke comics, this, combined with his warm and friendly delivery, is as refreshing as an ice-cold, free beer.
I still bloody love Richard Herring.
The Free Beer Show is a brilliant night. Warm and welcoming, and they book great acts. I hope they don’t wait another two years to bring it back.