TW: What was your first ever experience of the Edinburgh Fringe?
RH: I first came up in 1987 with the Oxford Theatre Group doing a kids show called ‘Old King Cole’ and a lunchtime revue called ‘The Seven Raymonds Present KMnO4’. We were big fans of Potassium Permanganate. It was a rollercoaster of emotions, but I met and worked with people who are still amongst my best friends 30 years on. Lots of the experience hurt, but something keeps drawing me back to be punched in the face again. Because the Fringe sometimes leans over you and kisses the bruises that it has made.
TW: What’s the best thing you’ve ever seen performed at the Fringe?
RH: Arthur Smith is the true King Of The Fringe and the show he did in the Botanical Gardens in 1998 was wondrous and sprawling with a cast of thousands and, within an hour, it had lifted my broken spirits and made me glad to be alive.
TW: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen performed at the Fringe – so bad it was good?
RH: I saw a student play about rape that really misjudged the subject matter. Sometimes being serious about something can be more offensive than joking about it.
TW: Which of the Fringe shows you performed in do you most fondly remember – and why?
RH: ‘Christ On A Bike’ (the first time) was a very important show for me, as it was the first time I’d done anything here completely solo. I had not previously seen myself as a stand-up comedian and thought I needed other people to bounce off. To be getting rolling laughs on my own – and to see people in pain with laughter, knowing I hadn’t even got to the really funny bit yet – was a rare treat.
TW: Name a Fringe performer – past or present – who you’d like to join on stage?
RH: Thanks to my podcasts I get to join nearly all my comedy heroes on stage. I’d love to work with Michael Palin, but there isn’t much chance of that. I’d also like to work with Peter Cook. There’s about an equal chance of that happening.
TW: Other than performing and seeing shows, what is your favourite thing to do in Edinburgh during August?
RH: I like watching terrible old quiz shows on Challenge TV. It feels positively wicked to be missing the greatest arts festival in the world cos you’re watching a marathon of ‘Bullseye’.
Richard Herring performs ‘Oh Frig, I’m 50!’ at the Pleasance
Courtyard until 26 Aug and hosts ‘Richard Herring’s Edinburgh Fringe
Podcast’ at the New Town Theatre on 11 and 18 Aug.