Tag: Comedy

‘We’re All going to Die!’: Richard Herring at Nottingham’s Glee Club

Richard Herring: We're All Going to Die!

Richard Herring: We’re All Going to Die!

They may seem like unlikely bedfellows but death and comedy have always held a special relationship. Our fear of death often manifests itself in a love of the ghoulish and the macabre and yet we often feel uncomfortable talking about it.

But in his latest show – We’re All Going to Die! – Richard Herring tells us that we should confront death head-on and celebrate the time that we have left on earth.

From being named after an intimate part of the body to becoming a fossil, Herring says that there are all sorts of different ways to live on after your death. Herring examines death from all angles, from religion, linguistics, existentialism to the cost of funerals and falling down the steps on the way out of the gig. He questions what the benefits of heaven are when we have to leave behind all our earthly pleasures (which are, of course, physical pleasures) in exchange for a pair of wings and concludes that death is necessary otherwise the earth would be full of unevolved amoebas who will never die.

Ever the pedant, Herring also spends plenty of time unravelling the absurdity of the nursery rhyme ‘There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly’ before concluding that the last line makes the most sense: there is a finality in death so we should make sure we should make the most of our lives. He also offers a counterpoint to Hamlet’s ‘To be or not to be’ speech in which he tells the doomed prince not to dwell on death but instead to have fun and take Ophelia out.

Anyone who saw Herring’s earlier show What is Love Anyway will remember the fondness with which he spoke of his grandmother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He tells us that she has since passed away at the age of 102 and what follows is a poignant and hilarious take on how we cope with death, demonstrating his ability to engage the audience with his fascinating and sometimes child-like take on life’s big questions.

Richard Herring appeared at Nottingham’s Glee Comedy Club last week. For upcoming tour dates visit his website.

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Review: Trevor Noah performs at Nottingham’s Glee Club

South African comedian Trevor Noah who performed at Nottingham's Glee Club.

South African comedian Trevor Noah who performed at Nottingham’s Glee Club.

There is a real freshness about South African comedian Trevor Noah who appeared at Nottingham’s Glee Club with his latest show The Racist on Sunday evening. He does not rely on crude humour or bad language in his routines and while he is not afraid to talk about politics and race he does so with a wide-eyed innocence which is instantly likeable.

After a short pre-amble in which he mock-confesses that the first part of the show could be ‘awkward’ Noah quickly revealed himself to be an accomplished comedian who was fully at ease on stage. His began with a few observations about life in the UK (it’s cold, dark and there is no mobile phone reception) before weaving insightful stories about life on the road, touring around Africa, growing up during apartheid and the fact that he was the product of an ‘illegal’ relationship (Noah has a white, Swiss father and a black South African mother). Growing up in a township with his mother and extended family he was not even allowed to be seen with his father and there is no bitterness or world-weariness in his tales; the horrors of apartheid are there in the background but what shines through is the humour that permeates family life.

Towards the end of the show, Noah tells us he can speak six languages and indeed it is his command of language that makes him such a pleasure to watch. He moves deftly from black American slang to Spanish to the German he learnt by inadvertently by listening to Hitler’s speeches. Race – and by extension language and culture – are the dominant themes in this show and Noah is able to subvert our notions of what these mean through playfulness rather than lecturing. He didn’t even need to win over the audience; he was greeted warmly from the beginning and he was rewarded with rapturous applause by the end.

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Existential angst in Stewart Lee’s Carpet Remnant World

Stewart Lee sums up his latest show Carpet Remnant World perfectly when he describes it as ‘an aggressive lecture’. Seemingly uncomfortable with his own fame, he is addressing the people who may have brought friends along with them that evening, believing this will be an entertaining night of comedy.

As with his previous routines, Lee – ever the post-modernist – analyses his audience and deconstructs why some people are laughing and others aren’t. He also tells stories and then admits that they are not true and tells the same joke in a different language, playfully making us look at the form of stand-up.

The first half of the show, which he performed at Nottingham Playhouse last Thursday, referred to news events of the previous year such as Bin Laden’s death and Norwegian mass murderer Andreas Breivik. At times this was a little patchy and the narrative was not always as tight as it could have been – but that’s not to say there weren’t some glorious moments. I particularly liked Lee’s parody of Ricky Gervais performing at one of his stadium gigs, arrogantly running onto the stage, surveying his vast audience and revelling in the applause.

It was after the interval that Lee really came into his own. Explaining that he had no material because he now spends his days driving on the motorway and looking after his son, he expertly weaved a narrative around visiting soulless retail parks, Twitter, Scooby Doo and Thatcher. The routine was politically astute, surreal and drew on a kind of existential angst that seemed to match the mood of Britain today. Lee’s stage persona is at times self-deprecating as he reads about himself on Twitter (‘OMG saw Stewart Lee eating a burger. He looked fat and depressed and fat.’) and at other times, deranged in a way that hinted at his earlier work such as If You Prefer a Milder Comedian.

One of the highlights for me was one that was completely unexpected. Lee is describing the current trend for ‘sad comedy’ in which comedians use terrible events in their life as stand-up material. In the middle of this faux tale of woe about being adopted and having extremist Christians hound him, small pieces of pink paper – presumably from last month’s pantomime – drop from the ceiling, setting Lee off on a searing rant and proving just how adept he is at improvisation.

For details on Stewart Lee’s Carpet Remnant World visit his website. 

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