The Stand, Edinburgh
Let’s face it, it takes some chutzpah for a comedian to label his show ‘the best’ knowing full well the torrent of caustic putdowns that could inevitably follow such an outrageous claim. But after some discussion, we have to admit that there probably isn’t another stand up out there who is more deserving of the description. Herring has given us so much sheer enjoyment over the years.
We first encountered him at the Edinburgh Festival in 2010 with Christ On a Bike: The Second Coming and every year after that, the first show we would book would be his. We were distraught when he decided not to do the festival in 2015 and 2016, and delighted when we heard that he’s going to give it another shot this year. All in all, we’ve seen six of his shows and the beauty of it is, of course, that every one of them is completely different.
So here he is at Edinburgh’s most iconic comedy venue, offering 90 minutes selected from all 12 of his Edinburgh shows and we figure, if anybody has earned the right to perform a ‘best of’ compilation it’s the UK’s most hardworking (and in many ways, most criminally underrated) stand up comedian. He strolls onto the tiny stage, dressed more casually than we’ve seen him in a long time and launches headlong into his infamous Ferraro Rocher routine and as each successive clip segues into the next, the time just flies by while we sit there helpless with laughter.
It’s not rocket science. Obviously if you pick out all the funniest bits from over twenty hours of material, you’re going to be left with real quality and that’s pretty much what we get tonight, the perfect mix of silly, rude and cerebral. He keeps his Christ On A Bike material for the end and I still think that asked to pick my all time favourite, it would be this show, a dazzling tour de force of wit and invention, coupled with an amazing feat of memory – but that’s not to demean the rest of it. Herring at his least effective can still knock spots off most of his peers.
If you’re still unfamiliar with his work, we would urge you to seek him out at your earliest opportunity. If you can’t make it to a live slot, don’t forget there’s a whole raft of podcasts out there from his Leicester Square Theatre interviews, through As It Occurs To Me, right down to his Me1 vs Me2 snooker games. It’s all easily accessible and he leaves it up to you to decide if you ‘d like to pay him for the privilege of enjoying it.
There are precious few comedians who can offer such high output and fewer still who can maintain this level of quality. The Best? Yeah, we’re happy to go with that.
Philip Caveney & Susan Singfield