Comedy festival review: Richard Herring and Matt Green at the Oval Tavern, Thursday 12th August

By - Friday 21st August, 2015

Paul Dennis catches a big fish at the Oval Tavern during Croydon’s comedy festival

Photo by Matt Green, used with permission.

Wouldn’t you just know it? Edinburgh is in full swing, so naturally we have a comedy festival in Croydon.

Now, all things being equal, you would expect any comedians worth their salt to be in Scotland right now, so it was a bit of a surprise to see two big names on the comedy circuit gracing the open air stage at Croydon’s Oval Tavern.

Before I get to the performances, it’s worth mentioning the organisation of the gig, which was superb. While booking in you had the chance to order food from the barbecue to be served at the interval. The process ran like clockwork and the food was up to the high standards expected at the Oval.

Great observational humour delivered with polish and panache

Bang on time, the comedy started. First up was Matt Green. Snappily suited, by his own admission baby-faced, recently married, and judging by the tightness of his suit jacket, very contented. What is it with comedians and tight suits?

As if to answer my unspoken question, it wasn’t long before the jacket was unbuttoned and Matt Green was well into his stride, with some great observational humour that unerringly hit the mark and had the audience laughing. The material was delivered with polish and panache and I was hugely impressed. I don’t think I was alone.

I must confess that Matt Green hadn’t been on my comedy radar before this gig, but I’d certainly go to see one of his performances again. He’s the sort of comedian who’ll be lauded as an overnight success anytime soon, even though he has more than ten years in the business. You heard it here first.

You’re never sure where Herring’s comedy sat nav will take you

Photo by Richard Herring, used with permission.

Well, after a cracking start followed by a decent length refreshment break, Richard Herring took to the stage. Herring is a much bigger fish (and I bet he’s never heard that before) so to have a comedian of his stature appearing at the Croydon Comedy Festival was a major coup.

With a formidable back catalogue that includes a lengthy collaboration with comedy giant Stewart Lee in the 1990s, one of Richard Herring’s major talents is to keep things fresh. It would be easy to walk the well-trodden path, but that’s not his way, so as an audience you’re never sure in which direction his comedy sat nav will take you, only that the journey will be entertaining.

On the night we were treated to meandering observational pieces that initially riffed hard on a t-shirt that he had seen a jogger wearing, before wandering into fatherhood. Laugh out loud stuff delivered in great style with impeccable timing.

Herring takes joy in the absurd

I do enjoy comedy that almost casually heaps one absurdity on another until the tottering edifice eventually comes crashing down. In this genre, Richard Herring is a master builder.

Perhaps not surprisingly there were some similarities in delivery to Stewart Lee, but with a lighter touch, I felt. There wasn’t the blunt instrument of repetition that Lee sometimes uses, and where Lee will give vent to often justifiable anger in the absurd, Herring appears to take joy in its discovery.

It was a quite brilliant evening’s entertainment all round. Two superb comedians, great food, dangerously cheap booze. It’s no wonder that both nights sold out well in advance – I wish I’d had tickets to the second one as well!

Paul Dennis

Paul Dennis

An award-winning journalist, Paul has worked on angling titles for much of his career, including 16 years as deputy editor of Angler's Mail and 4 years as editor of Total Sea Fishing magazine. He is a regular freelance contributor for a wide array of non-angling-related titles, author of two books on angling and a widely-followed authority on the subject.

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  • Anne Giles

    Watched each one on YouTube, but not really my cup of tea.