Richard Herring: Talking Cock, The Second Coming

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

However erudite your comedy tastes there’s always room for a good cock gag, even if they’re considered cheap. Or perhaps it’s precisely because they are cheap that they work.

The vulgarity of the penis had cavemen rolling in the aisles. It’s a ridiculous organ; yet a potent sign of virility, strength and power. Such a disconnect between the two places it holds in culture is where the comedy lies. It’s something to be feared… and laughed at.

In this – the second decade-old show he’s revamped in almost as many years, covering sex after he tackled religion – ‘Dick’ Herring gets to explore both sides of the cock’s image. He has his knob jokes, predominantly silly euphemisms torn from the pages of the Profanisaurus, but also develops some serious points as he delves into the anonymous online survey that provides the backbone, or shaft, of the show.

At the latest count, 10,000 people had taken part, so it should give a decent insight into Britain’s feelings towards the pump-action porridge gun. Some of the broad details will not surprise you, but the devil is in the detail. That some men will put their penises anywhere for pleasure is probably a given, but the precise answers given – and Herring’s comically forensic examination of those answers – is very funny indeed. The survey has certainly given him a lot of raw material to draw upon.

We get a flavour of the penis’s role in history and religion, including circumcision, while issues of length and girth are also addressed via the questionnaire. It would be easy for Herring to make self-aggrandising gags about what a massive wang he had himself – and no, he can’t resist – but ultimately he handles this with surprising sensitivity for a man selling a show on puerile genital gags.

There’s an acknowledgement of the psychological effects of size and performance anxiety, as well as erectile dysfunction. Plus one bit of hygiene advice it’s chilling that some men have to be told: Clean your penis!

Talking Cock is almost the sort of public health awareness talk that could be sponsored by the NHS or Viagra manufacturer Pfizer – but without being stifled by the committees of the well-meaning and the humourless that would involve. Herring’s quite happy to undercut a serious point with a silly – and yes, off-colour – gag, and it’s that which keeps this pumping along.

Herring originally said, slightly tongue-in-cheek, that he conceived this as a male answer to the Vagina Monologues. There’s some validity in that, but for all the interesting points, this is an hour packed full of a hell of a lot of below-the-belt jokes. Rarely is the juvenile this classily done.

Review date: 15 Oct 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton Dome

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