My interview show, Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (or as the cool kids call it RHLSTP) starts its tenth series today with a revealing chat with the brilliant Armando Iannucci. Don’t check the TV listings page, this programme goes out for free (both in audio and video formats) on iTunes, Youtube and the British Comedy Guide. There’s over 120 episodes. And it’s free!
I’ve covered the filming costs of the last four series by using crowdfunding, which is a wonderfully democratic way to do things. If enough people like what you’re doing and chip in a tenner or so then the show goes on and if they don’t… well so far, we haven’t had to face that awful eventuality.
Aside from being quite a bit ruder than a TV interview and a good deal longer, the thing that I think sets this show apart is the Emergency Questions. This is a list of weird and wonderful queries I have in the back of my notebook in case I can’t think of anything to ask. Which happens a lot.
But bizarrely queries like, “Would you prefer to have a hand made out of ham or an armpit that dispenses sun cream?” or “Have you ever seen a ghost?” or “Which celebrity would you like to stroke your hair as you die?” not only elicit amusing answers, but also seem to get the guest to be more open and honest.
I know from having been interviewed myself that the same questions come up again and again. It gets to the point where you have rehearsed the answer to thoroughly that it becomes more or less a script. So my guests are not only delighted to hear a different question, but they also have to access the improvisational or creative part of their brain. And once that door is open, the unrehearsed and previously untold stories come spilling out.
I have, it turns out, about 100 emergency questions in my book. I know this because one of the rewards I promised on the latest kickstarter campaign was a book of 500 EQs (as no one calls them). So I have another 400 to come up with.
But I think the book will be a lot of fun as I have found that the EQs (it’s not catching on) are an excellent parlour game/ice breaker and even a foolhardy way to liven up a first date! Someone told me that he and his friends had been trapped in their chalet by an avalanche and distracted themselves from impending death by asking if each other what they’d do if they had a time-travelling finger or which Spitting Image Puppet they would go on holiday with. Luckily they were rescued after an hour. As much for their mental as physical well-being.
Even if you’re not about to slide down a mountain, here’s some Emergency Questions for you to try in the pub or at a dinner party or on a stranger on the train who doesn’t really want to talk to you. Enjoy:
· What is the biggest animal that has ever bitten you?
· Would you rather have the ability to shoot bees out of your eyes or have a pair of shoes that never needed to be cleaned or repaired?
· Why do fools fall in love with Darren Day?
· Would you rather do a Freaky Friday/Vice Versa with Brian Blessed or CJ from Eggheads?
· What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever tried to squeeze down the drain in a shower?
· If you could choose which liquid you weed, what liquid would you wee?
The 2016 news is moving at such pace that it’s easy to forget about that UKIP MEP who hospitalised after apparently not being punched. As I write this I am still reeling from the anti-cat locker-room banter of Donald Trump, but by the time you read it who knows what will have happened to make you forget that? Alien invasion? The Rapture? My money is on Planet of the Apes. But then I am an optimist.