Customer Review

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Existential crisis, with plenty of knob gags, 26 April 2011
This review is from: How Not to Grow Up: A Coming of Age Memoir. Sort of. (Paperback)
First, the disclaimer. I knew Richard Herring quite well once. We were in the Oxford Revue Workshop together, where his comedy career began and mine more or less ended. Being surrounded by obvious incipient comedy genius in the form of him, Stewart Lee, Armando Iannucci, Al Murray et al. was enough to convince me to stick to the day job. We weren't close friends or anything but he was a nice enough bloke who I would happily heckle in a pleasant sort of way if I saw him on stage again.

This book is a curious read. Whilst very funny in places, it is not the usual jog-trot through growing up in the '70s and '80s. Much of it is quite dark, in as much as when he stops doing knob gags for long enough, Herring is clearly going through a bit of a tunnel as he contemplates reaching the age of 40 with little financial security and a comedy career that has probably peaked, if not stalled. Much of this is palpably contrived for the purposes of creating his next Edinburgh show, but it is genuine enough.

Some of the negatives from previous reviews are fair. It is definitely far too long - half a chapter on a meeting with the bank manager, FFS! - and it is not always easy to feel sorry for someone living the life many men would dream of: getting up whenever you like, no commitments, easy access to attractive women half your age ('Comedy groupies' was a bit of an oxymoron in Oxford in the late 1980s. In fact the total impossiblity of there being such a thing was a running gag at the Workshop. Funny how things turn out). Herring is intelligent and self-aware enough to know this and to know that he is coming over as a bit of a berk at times, so I assume he left this in on purpose.

However, I still enjoyed the book for many reasons, not least the most eloquent defence of immaturity that I have ever read. When we 'mature', when we lose the ability to laugh at farts - or worse still, stop ourselves from doing so - we are really losing something. And you don't have to be a 39-year-old with no serious worries and no worse hang-ups than never having had a threesome to know that. Though it probably helps to be a younger child...

Finally, if you don't want to know the result, look away now: by the end, he has got over the milestone without anything very much happening, he's had his threesome (with two attractive women) and even may have found a genuine soulmate. Isn't there some kind of a law against being this jammy? Cheers, Rich.
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