Herring is consummate host in what is a chat show for the 21st century
Herring is 47 – as he frequently reminds us – and draws on his age and longevity as a stand-up to create an evening to showcase his wry, angry and frustrated sense of humour.
He was performing a tricky balancing act on the night London is Funny listened in, however, and it took a while before stand-up and panel show regular Katherine Ryan slipped into the rhythm of her host’s trademark jovial patter.
Ryan survived on her flair for anecdotes – not least from her Canadian upbringing, the memory of so many childhood beauty pageants, and her spell working at restaurant chain Hooters – as well as some smart impressions of “dumb Americans”.
It was all a long way removed from the style of Herring, the middle-class headmaster’s son raised in Somerset but, in a first half of nearly 75 mins, the two were able to generate more sparks the longer they went on.
It didn’t match the rest of the evening – with Herring and Mark Gatiss from The League of Gentleman, Doctor Who and so much else – which felt faster and funnier.
Sprawled across his chair, the giant Gatiss looked and sounded more relaxed than Ryan. As he delved into his childhood fascination with horror movies and gently sent up his roles in Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, he quickly built a rapport with Herring.
For Herring, it worked because he is comfortable in the chat show format. The comfy interview on the comfy chair looks an anachronism today but Herring has been undermining it ever since the 1990s, going back to his and Stewart Lee’s sofa show parody This Morning With Richard Not Judy (when the crowd cheered their support by shouting “TMWRNJ”).
So check out this podcast, or RHLSTP as Herring encourages you to call it, and enjoy the fact it is a slow-burner.
Review by Peter Edwards