Arts Review: Richard Herring – Happy Now?

In Collaboration with Glasgow International Comedy Festival

Citizens Theatre, 17th March 2016

His twelfth show in as many years, Happy Now?, shows that Richard Herring as finely honed the art of performing standup, but has ceased to be an innovator in it. Herring’s new show asks whether the happiness he’s achieved after finding love and having a daughter is really satisfying and if it’s stifled his creativity, the answer to the former being yes, and going from the show’s content, the latter is also a yes.

Happy Now consists of mundane observational comedy and weak rehashes of old material. He wittily observes that, surprisingly, one does not necessarily have to feel strongly about Marmite, nor does anyone particularly love or hate Twixes. The humour in this is simple and unimaginative, and has been rightfully called out by a number of Herring’s contemporaries, which doesn’t seem to bother him.

On the side of rehashing old material, Herring notes that since he’s had a child people expect him to have changed and not make jokes about dead babies or paedophilia as he’s been known to do, and then goes on to make these tired gags. There’s unexpected laughs to be had on the matter of refusing to change, but Herring has veered right past these opportunities.

After an intermission Herring returns to the stage to shamelessly flog all of his books and DVDs, briefly recounting the best bits from each, and really making it seem like the man is coasting on ready-made goofs. This is drawn out for a while, and then he closes with a bit taken verbatim from his 2007 show Oh Fuck I’m 40 without notifying the audience of its origin.

Even the more creative bits, such as the ethics of having extramarital sex with a robot, have been published before (in this case his podcast with David Mitchell), and though recorded media poses a challenge for the modern standup it doesn’t take much digging to discover Herring has less new material than he claims. At one point he makes a jibe about Stewart Lee repeating a joke for 45 minutes, not acknowledging that he’s been doing it for over 10 years.

[Jimmy Donaghy – @JimmyDonagee]


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