Photo of Richard Herring

Richard Herring: Can I have my ball back?
Huntingdon Hall, Worcester – 6th July 2024

The instructions offered by the umpires at Wimbledon this week – “Can we have new balls please?” – took on a whole new meaning after Richard Herring’s highly personal show.

When fellow comedians learnt of Richard Herring’s diagnosis of testicular cancer the consensus was atypical: “You lucky bastard!” Of course, the sobering realisation his affliction could be life threatening manifested itself with a heightened sense of anxiety. However, the opportunity to write a show of stand-up about his right testicle, which was the size of a “tennis ball,” was life-affirming. As a comedian do you have any other shot to play when there is an “unexpected item in the bagging area?”

Using the male’s herculean ability to ignore the existence of a potential medical problem, the evening and Herring’s personal journey started from the initial period of utter and total denial. Herring successfully ignored his own obvious predicament and instead turned to Dr. Google for succour. The only outcome was comedy nuggets the size of a beach ball. Hereafter, salient moments on the timeline of diagnosis, denial, acceptance and the final sliced parry were highlighted with comedic observations or jocular irreverence. The moment Herring received the harrowing news – from a Dr who “offered up the back story as if he were appearing on X Factor” – was a moment that brought forth uncontrolled weeping at the time and a hushed silence to a full to capacity Huntingdon Hall.

Contrastingly, the show also highlighted the comedian’s relationship with his close family. His connection or rather lack of connection with his daughter Phoebe was a rich rally of damning drawings and intriguing indifferent returns; the accompanying laughter as gratifying as strawberries and cream.

Herring’s delivery was urgent and breathless as if the time and moment mattered even more. The delivery reminiscent of someone sat on a table of lifelong friends attempting to hog the conversation recounting humorous memories.

Much of the humour was based on stark reality and Herring certainly did not shy away from the truth or kick the ball into the long grass to save our sensitivities. Needless to say, Herring did hide behind one or two “comedy lies” as he insisted in calling them but the image of the operation which has ensured 8 people have fainted so far during the tour was recklessly akin to kicking a medicine ball…in bare feet.

Even the recovery period was infused with humour and visual hilarity. The notion of Herring’s dutiful wife applying a salve to the dry and infected area, as he framed his head with his knees, whilst suffering her own ailment – is an image I can’t shake!

Life had served a seeming unreturnable ace to the avuncular comedian. Nevertheless, the petulant backhand from the time-worn clown ensured the proceeding show was worthy of jumping the net at the end of 90 minutes. Spoiler alert, just ask his daughter as even Phoebe is impressed by her “Super- Daddy” now (sic).

By: The Swilgate Scuttler

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