diamond geezer

 Sunday, July 25, 2004

The Twelve Tasks of Hercules Terrace - Richard Herring (Latchmere Theatre, SW11)

The Edinburgh Festival approacheth, and London's comedians are busy sharpening up their acts in readiness for a month of Scottish exposure. Which is great, because it means we southerners get to see top Fringe shows at half the price and without having to travel up North for hours to stay in overpriced accommodation. Which is why I was over in Battersea last night sitting in a tiny theatre above a pub along with 100 other comedy misers. Onstage was Richard Herring, the half of Fist of Fun that didn't go on to write Jerry Springer The Opera, but more importantly the only half to write a daily blog that appears in my sidebar.

Normally when I review a cultural event or something I can rely on the artist not reading my review. However it is possible that Richard will swan in and read what I've written, particularly if you lot all clink on this link and go and read his blog called 'Warming Up' which is bloody good. And I shall also offer some suggestions on how the show could be even better, but only because Richard is still perfecting writing it, and because I was too socially inept to hang around the bar after last night's performance to discuss it face to face. Here's the press release summary of this latest comedy masterpiece.
Comedian Richard Herring is going through a mid-life crisis. Depressed and disorientated after having split up with his girlfriend, moved house and been stricken with writer's block, he resolves to take inspiration from the bust of Hercules that graces the front of his new home and perform twelve impossible or arduous labours in the hope of giving his 37 years on this planet some kind of meaning. Will the small, fat man from Somerset prove that he is a match for the bronzed and toned Roman demi-god? Or, more likely, will he not?
Regular readers of Richard's blog will be familiar with the concept of CPNS (Consecutive Number Plate Spotting). This is the glue that holds the performance together, the frankly insane challenge of spotting all of the numbers from 1 to 999 on car numberplates in the correct order. CNPS is a surprisingly good comedy topic and I was laughing along with the rest of the audience, despite my guilty secret that I too have played this game, right through to its conclusion. It took me four years, although Richard is now just 14 numbers from the end after just 20 months. If only I'd thought to keep my own obsessive notebook of cars, addresses and parking spaces then maybe I could have finished sooner too (although I will confess to having occasionally taken a different route home just to spot a particularly awkward number, just like Richard).

The show also recounts twelve separate challenges, each loosely based on one of the twelve fabled Herculean tasks, and each worthy of a lengthy sub-routine. The joy of Richard's tasks is in the detail - the virgin he chose not to sacrifice to the Loch Ness Monster, the rowing accident that nearly blinded an opposing oarsman, the realisation that elephant dung smells like a certain Weight Watchers product, and so on. His attempt to date 50 different women in 50 consecutive evenings is probably rich enough to merit an entire show of its own. Alas here all twelve tasks have to be fitted into the straightjacket of a one hour performance. One hour, twelve tasks - that's five minutes each. Add in a ten minute introduction and a two minute conclusion and that's just four minutes each. And it's not enough. Richard was able to relate only the first five tasks of Hercules Terrace before his time was up, which was a shame because we could have happily sat there and listened to another hour at least. We heard only sketchy details of his parachute jump, his tennis disaster, his nude Spanish protest and his tussle with Argos head office, plus a quick read through of the frosty letter he received this weekend from Germaine Greer. Our loss.

I suspect that this anecdotal surplus is a consequence of Richard being a comedy blogger. In writing over 600 daily blogposts he's composed so much quality material that it's almost impossible to thin it down to a sixty minute show. To do justice to all the possible content would take at least a six episode Radio 4 comedy series. Thankfully all of us online can read the fully detailed background stories on his blog, but in the theatre we were just left feeling as if we missed out. So Richard, ditch the stuff about how good and worthy the rowing and the marathon running were because that was just getting admiration, not laughs. Four minutes per task, that's all you've got to play with. But you did manage to make me laugh out loud, and believe me that's a lot harder than you might think. Now go conquer Edinburgh.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream