Richard Herring: Lord of the Dance Settee

Lord of the Dance Settee marks Richard Herring’s 23rd Fringe show, an accumulated Edinburgh residency of just under two years; enough, as he himself points out, to make him more Scots than the average Lothian toddler.

This feels less like stand-up and more like a reading tour of Herring’s collected Metro columns.

Unfortunately in this case, it seems like familiarity has bred slight contempt as Lord of the Dance Settee feels like a bit of a token offering; as if Herring feels like he should do a show even if he has nothing particular to talk about. This lack of a theme is a criticism he himself points to very early on in the show but knowing it’s a problem and fixing it are two different things.

The result is a grab-bag of extremely loosely-related stories, told one after the other, starting with the misheard hymn lyrics which give the show its title. Some sections stand out as particularly funny - the discovery of a terrifying woodland house with its ‘viscous’ Alsatian and his encounter with an arse-fixated tramp. Others, such as Dave Manager, feel a little overextended. Herring’s tendency to make side-swipes at other comedians for aspects of their act, which are then ‘ironically’ incorporated into his own closing number, struck a sour note but generally the tone is one well-crafted anecdote after another; set-up, punchline, rinse and repeat.

This isn’t a bad show as such - most of the individual stories are entertaining and each showcases Herring’s bizarre logic to good effect. However, without an overarching structure to move them forward, one surreal rant starts to blur into another. This pattern becomes a little monotonous over the course of an hour but it does also makes for a welcome change in pace when Herring launches into the extremely energetic closing number.

As you’d expect from a comedy stalwart, Lord of the Dance Settee is a well-crafted performance but, overall, this feels less like stand-up and more like a reading tour of Herring’s collected Metro columns. If you’re already a fan, it’ll fill an amusing hour; if you’re going for your first look, it’s unlikely to convert you.

Reviews by Tom King

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Performances

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The Blurb

After covering weighty issues like death, love, religion and spam javelins, 'The King of Edinburgh' (List) is in a frivolous mood with this show about daftness, whether the term cool comedian is an oxymoron, bouncing joyously on the sofa and how Herring's whole career is a failed attempt to top a piece of visual slapstick comedy he came up with at 16. Can he revisit the joke thirty years on or will it smash his old bones? 'Dependably funny' (Chortle.co.uk). 'A new Richard Herring show is a never-ending cause for delight' (List).

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