THE ever popular Richard Herring brought his 12th solo stand-up show, Happy Now?, to the Lowry last weekend. Our entertainment reporter Emily Murray went to see what all the fuss was about…
Stand-up for 48-year-old British comedian and writer Richard Herring is old hat now. Having made a name for himself as part of a cult favourite comedy duo with Stewart Lee, Herring has also achieved much success with a lengthy solo career and is recognised as being a pioneer in comedy podcasting.
His latest stand-up show Happy Now? however brings in a new era for the much admired comedian. Herring has recently become a father to what he calls ‘a loveable lump of sexcrement called Phoebe’. Now he has swapped nights of partying for nappy changing. And so, with his newest show he explores whether he is now finally happy.
You can certainly tell that Herring is a brilliant writer. His show is structured beautifully as we are taken on a journey, starting off with the birth of his daughter and ending with his conclusions on what happiness is and whether we can ever hope to be truly content.
His writing is truly thought-provoking and we thoroughly engage with the philosophical debate he presents us with. We really feel like we get to know Herring as he opens himself up to his audience. Every insight he gives is honestly provided and there is a raw and emotional quality to the show.
However, this is a comedy show remember. And this is where the problem lies. The balance between comedy and philosophical musings is not right. We certainly enjoy his armchair thoughts on happiness and this aspect does make the show enjoyable. But, the show is just not funny enough.
Unfortunately much of his material is run of the mill content. His jokes about fatherhood and the birth of his daughter have all been told before by other comedians. But in the second half of the show we are greeted with more original humour that was fresh and funny.
Listening to Herring question the real meaning of his in-law’s door mat ‘Grand Children Spoilt Here’, perform a five minute routine deconstructing the lyrics to Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed and explain about how he tried to justify to his wife why it is okay for him to have sex with a robot that looks exactly like Gemma Chan will really get you laughing and are certainly the highlights of the show.
To be fair to Herring though I am not exactly his target audience. His comedy is certainly aimed at a mature crowd and the audience were chuckling throughout, especially at jokes about Herring’s old partner Lee. For fans of Herring the show was raucously good fun, but those new to him may feel slightly left out in the cold.
You will not come out of the show with stomach ache from laughing too much, but it is entertaining enough. His philosophical musings provide an edge to Herring that other comedians lack, but the show itself is just not that funny. However, if you are a fan there is much to enjoy.
By Emily Murray