Richard Herring, Market Drayton Festival Centre - review

Theatre & Comedy | Published:

Richard Herring at fifty is not a pretty sight. Nor is his language pretty on the ear. But the Festival Centre audience was laughing out loud and like the man himself said, “Being fifty and still doing this for a living is a triumph.”

Richard Herring with Festival Centre volunteer Karen Ruddle

The show is called ‘Oh Frig I’m 50’ and picks up where ‘Oh F**k I’m 40’ left off ten years ago. Herring says “I’ve turned into a melted wax candle of myself.”

So there are plenty of jokes early in the show about the disappointments and humiliations of growing old. Many of these have to do with declining sexual prowess. They hark back to his libidinous days as a forty-year old when “I thought the universe revolved around me.”

There are jokes about bags for life that will likely outlive him, the European sauna with naked lady that nearly did for him, the car he’s just bought which remains devoted to its previous owner – the dashboard screen endlessly ‘searching for Ryan’s phone’.

During the last decade, however, Herring has not only grown older, he has grown into a married man with a young daughter and baby son. He now has two competitors who are utterly convinced the universe revolves around them.

This gives Herring new comic vistas to explore and he does so with a cheering energy and originality. He introduces his daughter’s toy ‘Penguin Race’ whose little coloured penguins toddle up a ramp then swish down a slide in an endless routine to flashing lights and tinkling tune. “After two minutes she takes away two of the penguins and makes them talk to each other in her own game: I watch it for hours. I could put it on stage for a whole show and win an award for avant-garde comedy.”

He stretches the story, delighting for example in the Chinese manufacturer’s surreally confident English, before mimicking the trudging penguins and whacking us with a metaphor for fifty-year-olds on the treadmill of life.

But even here the lewd and libidinous creep in. There are jokes about changing his baby son’s nappy and winking as he wipes his testicles with a wet wipe. Jokes about Herring senior’s crush on one of the CBeebies presenters. He gives us a peep at the doting dad with a big heart then reverts to rude boy as if to say ‘After all I’m only fifty, who wants to grow old gracefully?’

Herring says “I know I’m an acquired taste.” My guess is that plenty in the Festival Centre audience have acquired it and when he comes back in ten years to do his ‘Oh S**t I’m 60’ show he’ll be just as boyishly rude and very funny, and will pack the house.

By John Hargreaves


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