Two-and-a-half years ago, I went through to Edinburgh to see Richard Herring‘s stand-up set, What is Love, Anyway? and to catch up with a few friends.  The next morning, I woke up with a hear shaped balloon hovering over my bed:

Given that the stated aim of Herring’s set was to destroy love before it destroyed him, I found myself wondering if this was love’s way of taking revenge on me. Was I going to experience Prisoner style trauma at the hands of this helium powered monster, or would I just turn over and go back to sleep? [1]

It seems to me that this incident echoes nicely with the theme of Herring’s show, which starts from the basis that love is just our daft way of contextualising a freak series of occurrences and chemical reactions and then builds up a powerful argument for the existence of love that can survive in this materialist setting.

Of course, Herring being Herring, he also takes time to chastise parents for failing to take care of their sexual excrement (or “sexcrement”) along the way.  There are fine examples of Herring’s fondness for skits that are stretched far past what should be their breaking point in this set too: at one point Herring asks the audience to imagine an absurdly dystopian scenario that’s quite literally built out of Ferrero Rocher pyramids, and he closes the show by performing a routine about visiting his one hundred-year-old grandmother in hospital that manages to be both close to the bone and genuinely moving at the same time.[2]

Somehow, Herring structures all of this so that it ends up underlining his argument, even if does feel like it should obscure it completely – in this way, his that contention that our romantic ideals have a power that survives their irrationality is demonstrated in the form of the show as well as in its content.

It also helps that What is Love, Anyway? is a lot more poetic than I’m making it sound here. If you’re familiar with Herring’s work, it’s closer to The Headmaster’s Son than to ménage à un. If you’re not familiar with his work, then there are plenty of crude jokes in this set, but there are also passages of unashamed lyricism that succeed without pratfalls or punchlines. [3]

Still, you might reasonably be asking yourself by this point what all of this has to do with a pink love heart balloon.  The only honest answer is, nothing and everything all at once!

Obviously this balloon wasn’t really an agent of love, out to destroy a sleepy blogger for his dubious taste in comedy, but that didn’t mean that this novelty hen-night leftover lacked emotional significance for me. At the time of the show, I’d spent a month wiped out with an infection that just wouldn’t fuck off, and this balloon had been floating around my room the whole time, watching over me while I tried to sleep through headache and fever like a cheap knock-off version of Barbelith:

This was just another delusion, of course, but the balloon was left there by my girlfriend Karen, so it became an ever-present reminder of the care she’d been lavishing on me on a daily basis.[4]

When I saw it hovering over me all sinister like me on the morning after the Herring show, I couldn’t help but laugh at how easily this silly symbol of affection had transformed into its opposite.  The only meaning it had was the meaning I’d allowed myself to attach to it, and if this seems startlingly obvious to you then remember that it wouldn’t have felt that way to me while I was in the grip of the fever!

Of course, the damned thing could burst or deflate at any moment, but hey – that’s just how it is with love. [5]

Richard Herring’s still out there, of course, still touring his emotions for fun and profit.  I’m off to see his latest show, We’re All Going To Die, on Sunday.  It should be brilliant, but there’s always chance that he’ll blow it this time.  I don’t care.  I’m willing to take the risk.

I guess that’s kind of how it is with love too.

Click here for footnotes!


January 21st, 2014




Let’s fight! Disembodied Aggrobot X-15735 has had enough of the crushing misery and epic ennui of January. Disembodied Aggrobot X-15735 refuses to be beaten down, just because all New Year’s resolutions are broken and nothing changes EVER??!!!

Disembodied Aggrobot X-15735 will turn to Sun Tzu in order to combat 2014.

“If your opponent is of choleric temperament, seek to irritate him”

Not a problem.

“One defends when his strength is inadequate, he attacks when it is abundant.”

YES! These are the best Fortune cookies ever! Disembodied Aggrobot X-15735 has strength + 10 x

“When the enemy is at ease, be able to weary him; when well fed, to starve him; when at rest, to make him move. Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.”

Hmm. That sounds tiring. Perhaps Disembodied Aggrobot X-15735 will rest awhile and join you as you listen to latest podgasm from Gary Lactus & The Beast Must Die.

<ITEM> Some spectacuarly divergent admin this episode, managing to incorporate Harmontown, Marc Marron, longboxes,  comics as Totems/fetish objects, Neil Innes, Frankie Boyle and Chain Reaction, in amongst the usual sponsorshizzle…

<ITEM> A singing song is sung as we trip-trap over the bridge into the Reviewniverse. Talky-talk ’bout: The Watchmen RPG, Thor, Seekers Of THE Weird, Disney Imagineers, Avengers, Avengers: World, and Avengers: Avenge Thyself, Rover, Red & Charlie, Marvel UK, Death’s Head, Revolutionary War: Alpha, Daredevil, Superior Spiderman, Astro City, Baby Watcher, Velvet  and  Miracleman.

So let’s SILENCE! And then return to the war against 2014 reinforced!

click to download SILENCE!#90

Contact us:

This edition of SILENCE! is proudly sponsored by the greatest comics shop on the planet, DAVE’S COMICS of Brighton.
It’s also sponsored the greatest comics shop on the planet GOSH! Comics of London.