Oli Hague reviews Richard Herring at the Pleasance, Edinburgh
Although arguably not quite as cerebral as many of his previous 12 one-man fringe shows, Herring demonstrates why he has had such consistent success over the last 30 years at the festival with an affable performance on the virtues and struggles of life at 50.
Since his previous decennial Edinburgh Fringe stand-up show on the self-observation of his aging – ‘Oh F*ck I’m 40’ – Richard’s life has changed dramatically. Moving on from the heady days of late night parties and heavy drinking, he now talks of the happiness of marriage and the delights of raising his young daughter.
However, the show is more than an exuberant exclamation of his personal joy. “Where is the virtue in fidelity when there is no one else willing to sleep with you?” he asks. “Is a mother’s love REALLY the most impressive form of love there is?”. Dispersed between a confession of his sexual attraction to a particular Ceebeebies puppet and a story of an amusing confrontation with a postman, Herring reminds us that comedy can be simultaneously both profound and childish. As he puts it himself whilst playfully mocking the success of Peter Kay: “There’s more to stand-up than just remembering stuff”.
Despite somewhat lacking the thematic structure we have come to expect from the 40 show fringe veteran, ‘Oh Frig I’m 50’ is still a thoroughly enjoyable hour of comedy. The broad premise of his material may be somewhat clichéd for a comedian of his age and if you’re an avid listener to his popular podcasts you may have heard much of the material before, but there is little substitute for being likeable, witty and comfortable in front of an audience and Herring has those qualities in abundance.