Richard Herring‘s As It Occurs To Me (shortened to AIOTM) is an impressive undertaking: Herring writes an entirely new 60-minute sketch show each week, rehearses it with the cast (Emma Kennedy, Dan Tetsell and Christian Reilly on guitar) twice on the day and they perform it live on Monday night, which is recorded and released as a free unedited podcast the next day. You’ve got to hand it to him for putting his money where his mouth is and just doing this; even though it might have started as a failed pitch to BBC radio, but it has evolved into something else entirely. Free from the constraints of corporate interference, it allows the show to be sweary and filthy and obscene. And it’s all the better for it.
I had listened to the first series without actually going to the live performance, so I made a special effort to attend this series to give some money back for all the free entertainment provided, and it seemed best to go for the last show in the season, at the Bloomsbury Theatre on 5 July. Bizarrely, I hadn’t listened to any of season 2 AIOTM before seeing the final show; however, the running jokes didn’t interfere with the enjoyment.
Herring provides a full show – the first half was a preview of his Edinburgh show, Christ On A Bike, an update of an old show that is a funny and intelligent discussion of his disagreement of things in the bible. It was a good show, even if it isn’t completely finished yet, with some big laughs and a well-reasoned argument; all Herring has to do is calm down on the shouty section where he has a go at the error in the first sections of the New Testament, and he’ll do fine.
After an interval (where the queues for the men’s toilets was larger than the women’s toilets, such is the ratio of gender in the fans who attend these shows), the live performance of AIOTM went ahead, including all cock-ups and digressions. It was fun to watch the show being performed, seeing the actors playing the lines instead of just hearing them; Emma Kennedy was particularly funny, especially the physicality of her SuBo character (and she slightly counters for Herring’s worrying trend towards misogyny). The show does have a tendency towards recurring gags (Tiny Andrew Collings has become a huge part of the script), which can hinder the casual listener, but it was a lot of fun and it was a hoot seeing the cast making each other laugh, and seeing them happy when a sketch worked well. The audience certainly enjoyed it, but they were slightly biased fans (my long-suffering girlfriend went with me but didn’t have quite the same reaction, which only makes me love her more for putting up with me dragging her to stuff like this) – the feeling in the theatre was of warmth and enjoyment and almost community. I can certainly recommend the sensation, and seeing AIOTM live was definitely worth it.