Sunday, 31 March 2002

Richard Herring, March 31, 2002

Christ on a Bike
 7 Alfred Place until April 2, 2002
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Richard Herring's show, Christ on a Bike starts badly but is worth it for ten minutes of wild theorising about the first pages of Matthew and Luke's Gospels.

Herring needs work on his audience relationship, his material and comic delivery.  He may have been nervous on his first Saturday night in Melbourne but his manner was unengaging and brusque which did not quite work for us.

His premise is fine. Last year, at age thirty-three, he discovered he was the same age as Jesus when he died. Could Herring be the New Messiah? - awkward to prove, particularly when you are an atheist.

His whole show is a series of dislocated stories about his childhood, conversations about religion and atheism with his ardent Christian parents and a dream about racing Christ on a bicycle.

The last is reminiscent of The Hare and Tortoise.

He slams transubstantiation, the Second Coming, the virgin birth - well, all religious beliefs. He has a go at Buddha and other religious figures but hold his fire at Islam. "I'm not an idiot," he quips.

He does some unpleasant sexist material that might work if he won the audience over first. As it was, he lost some of us immediately.

His ten minutes of good material shows Herring at his best. He is driven to debunk the Bible and finds a crazy argument to do so. He takes the genealogical line from Matthew's  gospel and recites the babble of unpronouncable names that lead from Abraham to Jesus in an evangelical rant to rival Billy Graham.

The crowd loves his ridiculous obsession with the biblical names. They marvel at his ability to remember them and his weird desire to turn them into an acronym to memorise them.

Herring seemed aware that the gig was not his best. If he was more engaged and friendly, more wiling to respond to what happened in the audience and communicate directly, he might be more successful.

By Kate Herbert

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