Reviewer: Jo Beggs
Ten years ago, in the depths of a mid-life crisis, Richard Herring’s stand-up showOh Fuck I’m 40 was an angry rant at the world. Single, drinking too much and hankering after his youth, Herring got some great material out of his increasingly dysfunctional life. Never one to hold back, his personal life laid out for all to see, we laughed along with him at his foibles and failings.
Ten years on, as Herring hits 50, his new show reflects the different person he’s become. So much more comfortable in his own skin, and with that freedom to say what you think that comes with age, he’s probably more on form than ever.Oh Frig I’m 50 is less of a rage against aging but rather an ode to the absurdity of it. Now married with two small children, Herring’s realisation that he’s spent most of his life only thinking about himself, and that there’s now other things to distract him is something of a weight off his shoulders. He’s still as vulnerable as ever, still doling out sex stories that make you wince, still lamenting on how his career’s panned out, but all of it undercut with a general feeling of satisfaction – if only that he’s got this far.
Herring’s sardonic wit is particularly effective when applied to the gentler aspects of life-changing nappies and pushing swings get some of the same comedic treatment as the more lairy activities of the past, and to great effect. Herring shows himself to be more thoughtful than ever, more in touch with himself and the world, but that definitely doesn’t mean his comedy isn’t as sharp and indelicate as ever.
Herring delivers some brilliant routines on his own middle-class life – moving to the country, skiing holidays and the ubiquitous nespresso machine. He tells a long, hilarious story about getting a crush on a CBBC puppet, and one about how he’s annoyed the postal service. He talks about his kids, throws in a few local and topical jokes, laments on his physical deterioration. It’s all pretty typical stand-up material but Herring does it all with a self-confidence and slickness that has definitely come with age. Along with the irreverence he’s always been so great at, it adds up to him being at the top of his game.
Herring is the most unlikely comedian to grow old gracefully, but that’s definitely what seems to be happening. Let’s hope his promise of Oh Shit I’m 60 comes to be, with plenty more in between. This is Herring at his funniest, and most thought-provoking – but just as rude and irreverent as ever.
Reviewed on 15 April 2018 | Image: Contributed