Richard Herring – Edinburgh Festival review

The latest offering by Richard Herring measures up well but won’t elicit any gasps of pleasure, says Julian Hall

Richard_Herring6Richard Herring’s male take on The Vagina Monologues was a cult hit in 2002. Ten years’ later his slightly re-adjusted, phallocentric study has been unzipped to commemorate Herring’s quarter century association with the Fringe.

Not a great deal has changed in the penis world in a decade, it has to be said, but this remains an upstanding show (well, if the comic can enjoy open season on innuendo so can the reviewer) without being a complete blast.

Herring’s internet poll research into the size, shape, performance and image of the penis provides ample opportunity for the veteran comic to riff on time-honoured questions, for example of girth v length, and puncture some old wives’ tales, notably about masturbation.

In some cases the 45-year-old’s pontificating has a compassionate hue, and he sympathetically handles various perceived “abnormalities”; elsewhere he employs innuendo, euphemism and puns to pleasing effect.

The poll findings that precipitate Herring’s routines (such findings as: 70.5% of men have tried to fellate themselves; 21.6% of women suffer from penis envy) provide constant punctuation.

As someone who has come fresh to this show, it’s arguable that this conceit could have been used for a 15-minute opening section before new stimuli were introduced.

The online poll is a consistent thread but it wears, and it feels like it prevents Herring from a freer ranging, fully formed routines, although the “through the motions” feel of this preview may have skewed this impression.

Clearly, for many, this format worked last time round, and will do so again if anyone fancies a bit of knob nostalgia. If you are a “Cock” virgin, your impressions will swing from middling to good; there’s no danger of finding “Cock” a spent force.

3 stars

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