Ten questions with Richard Herring (because we couldnât think of 20)
A swift chat with the most somewhat-recognisable partly-unrecognised comedian on these shores, Mr Richard Herring...
By Stuart Messham
1) On Wikipedia it says that you are described by the British Theatre Guide as "one of the leading hidden masters of modern British comedy". Does the hidden bit of that statement irritate you?
Not really. I think itâs good in many ways to be in the situation that Iâm in. Lots of people are still paying to come and see me but lots of people still donât know who I am. Which means I can go about my daily life without too much fuss. Imagine being Michael McIntyre â a chubby man currently revered as a God. His life must be more difficult now. I like a certain level of anonymity.
Iâve never won awards and I wasnât in the Channel 4 top 100 comedians, so I think the people who like me are trying to keep me a secret! In the past few years things have moved up a gear and things are moving at a reasonably slow pace, which is good. I think.
In five years time I might look back at now and wish I had it back. Might.
2) Whatâs the funniest book youâve ever read? And which book have you read the most times?
I really like an American author called Jonathan Ames called Whatâs Not To Love: an honest look at his mildly perverted lifestyle, and Iâm as much a pervert as him, so I enjoyed that.
I also love Charles Bukowski and Kurt Vonnegut.
Hitchhikerâs Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams is probably the comedy book I have read the most.
3) Most annoying and most exciting thing about modern technology.
Itâs exciting for comedians to have lots of different outlets to produce lots of comedy in lots of different ways, and to have mediums free from censorship where comedians can put whatever they like on there with anyone telling you otherwise. Obviously, editing and censorship occurs on radio and television, so the internet gives you the opportunity to be desrestricted from that. I really like the connection you get with an audience.
The bad side, is you get certain idiots either obsessing over you or taking potshots at you.
I love the internet though. Iâm on it too much. Thatâs the problem with comedians: Weâre self-employed with a lot of time on our hands and itâs easy to waste that time.
I see so many people tapping away on smartphones when theyâre travelling and moving from place to place and looking inwards rather than outwards, and I think we should be a bit concerned about that.
4) Whatâs your favourite websites?
Wikipedia is a great resource for a writer and a comedian because of its scope and its immediacy. I think Twitter is also a great resource to find people who will give you advice or you can follow people and really keep up on whatâs going on in the world. Itâs a great way of gathering news. I like the BBC and Chortle too, but, like i said, I sue Wikipedia and Twitter the most.
5) You helped create Alan Partridge. Which part was yours. And what was the funniest thing he ever did?
Me and Stew (Francis) basically wrote the first things he ever did. Thereâs an ongoing joke over what rights of ownership we have over him. I think, realistically, Steve Coogan came up with that character and him an Armando (Ianucci) nailed it. We wrote some of the first news sketches for the character but the rest of it was all Steve. Iâm delighted to have been a part of it though and itâs great to have the development of that character on my CV.
6) Film part youâd have most liked to have played?
Thatâs a good question. My favourite film is Spinal Tap; I would loved to have been in that on some level. Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap would be my answer, but whether I could do it like Harry Shearer is debatable.
7) Whatâs the dumbest thing youâve ever done on stage?
I cracked my rib in the stage show of We Need Answers. I had to jump up on a high stool and someone had moved it and couldnât do any exercise for three months. Very annoying.
8) How much material that you think of and write down do you have to reject? Whatâs normally the reasoning and can you give us an example?
For a show youâre normally writing two hourâs worth of material for a one-hour show and youâll hone it down for Edinburgh, but when youâre on tour youâll begin to open it out again. Youâll use most things but itâs very hard to quantify. When Iâm on tour Iâll change things constantly to either make them better or just because Iâm bored of the way Iâm delivering it.
9) What should be the punishment for people stealing jokes?
Seems weird to me that anyone would want to steal jokes but if they did the punishment would come to them with the embarrassment of people realising theyâve been lifting material. Sometimes one-liners can already have been done, so youâre in difficult territory there. Luckily, most of my stuff is different. Itâs stuff that only I can do. In Christ From A Bike I recite the whole scene from the first testament and then do an acronym of it; if anyone manages to steal that routine I would probably have a certain amount of respect for them!
10) What would you be if you werenât a comedian?
I donât think I could do anything else. My whole family are teachers, so that may have been something I would have gone into. I think Iâlll be okay though. Unless I have some horrific injury, then I think thereâs more to come.