It was nice of Richard Herring to show up to one of the last shows of his Hitler Moustache run still with the Hitler Chaplin toothbrush face fuzz. And Charlie Chaplin‘s suit by the looks of it. He had the appearance of a lesser cast member in Reservoir Dogs, “I don’t wanna be Mr Heliotrope”. I was really looking forward to it, having been a fan since Fist of Fun.
The Coliseum is a fairly small venue, only seating a couple of hundred people at most, but it was pretty much full. The average age of the audience was probably mid-30’s-early 40’s with a few outliers, more towards the younger end of the spectrum. Halfway through the first half two guys went out to go to the loo, prompting Herring to comment on this synchronicity to much audience merriment. The only thing missing was a ‘nom nom nom’ heckle when they returned, a few seconds apart. As an audience, we also seemed to be a pretty much left-leaning bunch, though I hoped that the Labour rosettes could have taken a break for a couple of hours and given us a break from the glut of campaigning going on.
The first part of the show ranged from Michael Jackson’s death to the history of the moustache he (Rh, not Michael Jackson, though that could’ve been quite interesting) was wearing. This part included the now controversial section (mis)quoted by the Guardian’s Brian Logan where Herring uses the words, “maybe the racists have a point.” In fact, this is an almost forensic deconstruction of the absurdity of racial prejudice, delivered with a great deal of righteous anger and passion; just as importantly, it is very funny.
The second half of the show covers subjects Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, the contents of a BNP election flyer and Carol Thatcher’s infamous One Show green room faux pas.
It’s all stitched together with a mix of the profound and the puerile, which is pretty much Herring’s trademark and stretches back to TMWRNJ, Fist of Fun and Lionel Nimrod days. I pretty much knew what the political complexion of the show was going to be before I went, and turned up expecting some edgy, but intelligent, material. That’s what I got. And how. Herring (like his erstwhile partner Stewart Lee) is a real craftsman, technically hugely adept, working the audience and building a good rapport with us, as well as the laughs, through the show.
The show is building up to a single focus, of course, but what? Well, during the discussion of the BNP’s flyer Herring talks about the last European elections and the low turnout. Basically, he wants people to vote, and not to waste that which has been hard-earned by many others in our history. What could be more high-minded and laudable than that, other than to throw a few good cock jokes in there too?
After the gig I got a programme signed, as well as a copy of The Headmaster’s Son. I also made a fairly weak crack to Rich about Whitby being not quite as shit as Middlesbrough (because that’s where his Gran lived). But, given that he didn’t know I’m from the Boro (why the hell would he?), it probably just sounded a bit mean-spirited. Still, according to his blog, he seemed to enjoy the show, even though the journey up was a pain. I also overheard the woman he mentioned (politely) complaining to him about the paedo gag. I’m not quite sure she entirely got the point.