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What Are They Singing About In Opera?
Comedian and pianist Rainer Hersch live at the 2006 Edinburgh Festival performing one of his card routines: music from Bizet Carmem
More Rainer Hersch videos
|What Are They Singing About In Opera?|
After studying economics at university, Rainer Hersch embarked on a career in arts management, while moonlighting as a stand-up on the London circuit. In 1992, he left his job as touring manager of the London Festival Orchestra to become a full-time comic.
His first one-man show was The Massed Bands Of The Grenadier Guards And RAF Flypast - Plus Support, with which he toured the Canada in 1994. A year later, Hersch decided to incorporate his passion for classical music into his stand-up for the first time, producing the show All Classical Music Explained, which he took on a 55-date tour. The format was also made in to a number of radio series for the BBC and Classic FM. Hersch has subsequently ensured classical music has formed the basis for all his shows, and he sometimes performs with a full orchestra.
He has also made two Radio 4 documentary series about comedy and classical music, All The Right Notes, Not Necessarily In The Right Order. Series 1 included a profile of the Danish born entertainer, Victor Borge, which provided the inspiration for a play, Rainer Hersch's Victor Borge, which was first performed at the 2004 Edinburgh Fringe under the title Borge Again.
Hersch's TV appearances include The World Stands Up, How Do They Do That? on ITV 1 and a five-week stint as team captain on BBC One's daily show The Entertainment Game in 1998
Yet another one of those half-deaf, half-German classical music experts that the comedy scene's so full of, Hersch's forte is, understandably, his specialist knowledge.
He has forged quite a career from pricking classical music's pomposity, and it's not for nothing that he's frequently compared to Victor Borge.
And when he's holding forth on his favourite subject, Hersch's playful routine is unfailingly entertaining. His barnstorming finale, in which he provides mondegreens (or misheard lyrics) to foreign operatic arias, is a witty and assured crowd-pleaser.
His stand-up, though, can be a little less inspired. For while he's capable of producing some fabulously silly one-liners, he also has a tendancy to spend too long on overly-familiar territory.
He doesn't need to rely on such hack material, though, as he has a demonstrable wealth of talent when talking about the classical scene, and sometimes when he's not.
His unique angle attracts a different audience to the usual stand-up crowd, which is naturally to be welcomed, but perhaps playing to less discerning, less comedy-savvy audiences has given him a few bad habits.
For a more knowing punter, this can be a little frustrating as you wait for the good stuff to come along.
Despite these criticisms, Hersch is an experienced and amiable performer, a safe pair of hands able to command an audience and - at his best - produce some wonderfully witty material.
Show - Edinburgh Fringe 2002 -
Show - Edinburgh Fringe 2006 -
Very, very funny. Tenuous accusations of plagurism of Bill Bailey are unnecessary because both comedians are equally talented in their own right. The fact that Hersch's medium is also a musical one does not diminish his originality. Hilarious from start to finish.
Bill Bailey isn't a patch on Rainer Hersch. Excellent - go see.
Unfunny and a poor plagarism of Bill Bailey at his best.
Did'nt I see this very same act five years ago but the comic was Bill Bailey?
This man is pure joy. Easily the best every time I have seen him at the Comedy Store. A hoot all the way through.
The musical finale was brilliant. The rest of the act, however, was tired, dated, insulting and not particularly funny. He should stick to what he does best, and drop the painful one-liners.
Edinburgh Fringe 2003
Rainer Hersch's Instruments of Mass Destruction
Edinburgh Fringe 2004
Borge Again! - Rainer Hersch
Edinburgh Fringe 2006
Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Rainer Hersch's Victor Borge