Richard Herring: Oh Fuck, I'm 40

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Richard Herring is a 40-year-old middle-class man who’s dodged the responsibility of a wife, children or a career in a sensible job in favour of the flippant field of comedy, where he can act as if he’s a perpetual teenager, despite the overwhelming physical evidence the contrary.

His experience is far from unique. We live in a society where everybody wants to be 21, whether you’re actually younger or a lot, lot, lot older than that. A generation ago, as Herring notes, most 40-year-olds would be pillars of the community, with teenage children and grown-up hobbies beyond owning a skateboard, a Wii and an impressive CD collection.

But Herring mostly avoids making too many wider points about this in a show that is largely about his own failings and inadequacies. He can’t fight, hates kids and lusts after inappropriately young women – it’s not a very sympathetic figure he cuts. Yet he delivers it all so openly, and with his usual cheeky charm, that you remain on his side. Quite how long that cheek remains cute and not creepy is just another aspect of aging he frets over.

There are a handful of long, borderline over-long, routines that illustrate his mid-life uselessness. One mocks the trendy T-shirts and their inappropriate slogans he sometimes buys. It seems an easy target but he gets the laughs by being wilfully pedantic and literal about what they say, to a comically ridiculous extreme. Another tells of an inept fist fight he became embroiled in, which serves to illustrate how pathetic his life can be. A third demonstrates how talking dirty during sex can go horribly wrong, if you really don’t know what you’re doing.

The material is often quite disgusting, but tempered by its confessional side. Herring knows how to tell a story and delights in pushing things as far as he dare, and then a little more. If he has any doubts he has that being puerile and offensive on stage every night is no way for a middle-aged man to behave, he manages to put them to one side for an hour. And that’s OK, the show’s not as introspective as you might expect.

His writing is as smart and effective as always. Who else can call society itself a ‘whorish coquette’, and actually make it sound a reasonable conclusion. The show feels in need of a more robust structure or big payoff to elevate it above a simple but entertaining collection of self-deprecating anecdotes, but it’s still comes with a generous share of laughs.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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