Richard Herring
Richard Herring

Richard Herring: What is Love, Anyway?

4/5 stars
Review by Lewis Porteous.
Published 23 August 2011

As if it isn't difficult enough for comedians to come up with a solid hour's worth of jokes in time for the Fringe, many audiences expect them to weave the material into thematically unified shows. One of the country's most prolific acts, Richard Herring, excels within such constraints. When he directs the full force of his comedic mind in a coherent direction, the results are often exceptional.

Having previously covered such heavyweight topics as yoghurt and fascism, Herring's latest opus finds him attempting to destroy love in all its guises. Dry cleaners, relatives, stalkers and girlfriends all provide material for him to rigorously consider, while he skilfully articulates the way in which his own attitude towards the subject has changed over time. His greatest strength is the contradictory nature of his persona. At once logical yet wholly unreasonable, his is a world in which seemingly innocuous statements are dismissed before being taken to their extremes and held as socially binding contracts. When Herring recites a poem that he wrote as a teen in response to a philandering acquaintance, he veers between self-deprecation and aggrandisement, the tone of the piece never once seeming disjointed or inconsistent.

Though its Ferrero Rocher routine alone is enough reason to recommend What is Love, Anyway?, it's crammed full of brilliant set pieces. An over-sentimental conclusion in which the audience are implored to find true love for themselves is the only bum note in an otherwise wholly consistent show.