Richard Herring/Stephen Carlin – The Cellar, Oxford – 4th June, 2012


Pixie had bought the tickets a while back. It was tough to believe the gig was here. I nearly forgot about it a couple of times.

Richard Herring, in case you’ve not heard of him, is a stand-up comedian who started out on his own, in Oxford, in the early 90s. He was then part of a double-act with the excellent Stewart Lee for a while. They decided to split the act up and he (and Stewart) has been performing in solo shows since.

Herring has titled the show we saw “Talking Cock”, a sort-of male answer to the Vagina Monologues. The title makes it sound crude, but Herring throws in enough history and male inadequacy asides to make the show almost educational in spots.

He was perfoming the show at The Cellar in Oxford, as a preview/warm-up for the Edinburgh Festival – so it was a treat to see it in an unpolished (mind the pun?) form. Herring had the second half of the show, which started with Scottish comic Stephen Carlin.

Carlin was also previewing his latest Edinburgh show, called “Pandas and Penguins”. The main gist was the difference between the two species, and how to classify English and Scottish people according to their similarities to either pandas or penguins. Carlin has a laid-back delivery style and his observations seemed pretty spot-on. The funniest bits were the anecdote about having to get his parents drunk to let them know he was quitting drinking (his imitations of his parents’ voices reminded me a lot of Rab C. Nesbitt), and him talking about his girlfriend leaving him for no-one. At one point, the amplifier over-heated and the mic cut out. Carlin had been talking about paranoia and it was almost a perfect synchronicity with his act. A few times he tried to remember where in the act he was, but he played the delays off smoothly. It’d be cool to see the finished show sometime.

Richard Herring’s act had more flow – but he’s also performed bits of this show before. The joke about the loo graffiti, which still cracked me up –  I’d seen him tell it on one of his television appearances. Same for the joke about how to tell the size of a man’s penis. Most of the set-ups come from answers to an online questionnaire that Herring has on his website. As the cliched phrase goes, “most of this stuff writes itself”, but Herring deftly weaves the goofy answers, as well as the more personal, almost confessional ones, into the act as a whole. Along with adding in various slang terms for the male member: “meat thermometer”, “flesh silo”, etc.

It all winds down with Herring exhorting the men in the audience to shout “I love my cock!” He then tries to get the crowd saying “I love my cock and your cock!”, with a lessened result. I really enjoyed the show and it reinforces the idea that sexuality seems to have a very wide spectrum, even when just discussing one physical part of it.


3 responses »

  1. Good to see you young ‘uns getting out on the town. Sounds like it might have been a bit of mixed experience. Never quite sure about Herring, though I liked him on Fist of Fun, all those
    years ago. Of course, he has the handicap of not being Stewart Lee. I do recall seeing him talk about his reclaiming the Hitler moustache. Odd.

  2. Oh yes, I remember now that Herring used to go about coming from Shipham in Somerset, which, if you know anything about Shipham is quite funny. Sorry I haven’t been about much. Both parents ill and have much to do.

  3. Ha Ha Ha Ha! Yeah, one of our few nights on the town per year. I like Herring – I’ve watched a couple of his DVDs and find them quite funny. This was the first time I’d seen him live. He and Stewart have similar styles – though Herring’s delivery is much faster-paced.

    No worries, Bear – look after your family. Keep us updated!

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