Richard Herring, Christ On A Bike: The Second Coming
Owain Paciuszko 20/12/2010
Christ On A Bike: The Second Coming
Of all the shows that Herring could ressurect this one was most definitely the most apt, and a fitting counterpoint to his recent highly publicised show Hitler Moustache; Herring referencing his journey from Nazis to Christianity is very similar to that of the current Pope, going on to read us his own application for Popehood. In actuality Christ On A Bike was Herring's return to solo material after a long period as part of the double-act Lee and Herring; originally performed at the 2001 Edinburgh Fringe.
Growing up in Somerset, with Christian parents and schooling, meant that Herring was exposed to the teachings of Christ on a daily basis and he seems to have grown up with something of an insecurity complex as a result. It was during Herring's 33 year on this Earth that he realised by the same age Christ was being nailed onto a cross, about to leave a legacy that would last 2,000 years. How had Herrings life compared? What had he achieved? This was further exacebated by a dream he had in which Jesus challenged him to a bicycle race.
Me, I grew up in Cornwall, and at school we had to say our daily prayers and sing hymns, and, like Herring, I was presented with a Gideon's Bible that I would occasionally feel strangely compelled to read. But smartly Herring's issues are more self-deprecating than broadly theological, his main 'attacks' on the Bible itself are hilariously mounted rants that play upon simple narrative and structural flaws in this ancient text; the show's comedic set piece involved a dissection of the infamous 'begat' passage from Matthew 1, which is both a masterclass in splutteringly joyous ascending pantomimic rage and a marvel of memory (especially when we get into the acronym).
Marrying these intelligently assembled arguments alongside forays into nostalgia (readings of his early creative writing) and gleefully juvenile gags (the size of Jesus's knob), occasionally skirting taboos with a winning sense of dopey innocence, is what Herring does best; the pace of the show ebbing and flowing from sequences where laughter builds upon laughter in rapid succession, to more considered, thoughtful - almost poignant - segments.
Despite being a huge Herring fan I've only seen him live once before, performing the wonderful and strangely bittersweet The Headmaster's Son in Bristol a couple of years ago. Lee and Herring made a huge impact on me comedically with their cult shows Fist Of Fun and TMWRNJ (which I am still amazed got broadcast live on a Sunday morning by the BBC). Christ On a Bike, despite being performed by an older (wiser?) Herring centres upon a couple of extremely strong set-pieces, but in all isn't as satisfying a whole as his more recent work. Regardless of this minor quibble, Herring is one of the most genuinely talented comedians around and his shows are always worth watching and this is a great chance to revisit a past glory for both the audience and performer. Plus you can go home knowing you've learnt some imporant life lessons; 'Wank not, lest ye be wanked.'