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Sunday 1st June 2014

4207/17126

My monthly weigh-in comes in at 84.4kg, which is 2.2kg down on this time last month and 11kg down since the start of the year.  But as I had got under 85kg by halfway through the month I had been hoping that I might get under 84 by now. It's still a very positive step forwards (or downwards) and I think giving up booze and exercising harder (apart from the 10 days after my minor op) has been the key. With the boost of the personal training sessions and tailored diet starting up this month it will be interesting to see where I've got to by July 1st. The commitment is still there. I am young. I am fit. I will never die.

Today was supposedly the deadline for the first draft of the play, but unsurprisingly I didn't make it. I was at my desk for most of the day but made only minimal progress, drafting a rough new scene, but an important one that has the potential to show how the action might progress. But every word had to be dragged from my fingertips and I was not inspired. I might have a good day where ten pages of usable dialogue might appear as if by magic. But today was graft and though I liked the spirit of what I'd written I hadn't cracked the what'stheword... there's the problem right there for you.

I took a break and listened to the tape of the Lee and Herring live show that I recently discovered. I am seeing Stew at a gig tomorrow and we are going to be recording some links and filling in the gaps a bit. But I also wanted to check that it was good enough for public consumption.

It's a really interesting gig to have (mainly) recorded because it's the second show of the tour and we're still finding our way and trying to adlib around stuff and it hasn't yet been honed as much as it would be (sort of) later. But that means there's loads of interesting bits that probably never got heard again and I am slightly amazed at our confident performance of something that was clearly a bit unfamiliar and in some places being created in front of the audience. There's some fantastically funny bits and it's nice to hear how much we make each other laugh and there are also some slightly awkward bits. I can hear my inexperience as a stand-up at some points and can partly understand why Stew was always a bit worried that I might push things too far (in a bad way). You can occasionally sense his caution if you're looking out for it and he manages to steer me away from a few danger areas. Yet in a way that is also a shame. The dynamic is so good that the Herring character could get away with going further sometimes. Even when it's a bit unpleasant or poorly thought out, the audience seems to forgive me. But we're both a lot better at understanding what makes offensive comedy work now, yet still the tantalising thing about this job is the moment of risk you take as you fling yourself over a cliff.

The double act came with a safety net though, where if anything went wrong, the other one was there to catch an idea and turn it around. I really like the uncomfortable moments, as much as the inspired bits of invention and the fact that when there is something that feels like it might be juvenile ill-thought out 90s laddism, it is turned around in an interesting and thoughtful way.

Some of the ideas are run into the ground even by Lee and Herring standards, though usually become funny again after being irritiating. And there's a nice running joke, that I think we lost from the tour, about me calling Stew a Luddite because he hates computers, and then list other attributes that make him a Luddite, like him smashing any loom from before 1815 and exactly following the philosophy of Ned Ludd and being slaughtered in the Peterloo massacre. The audience seem a bit confused by it, but back then there seemed more of a chance that a room full of clever young people would get that reference than they would now. We make a joke about Madonna having a baby which neatly dates the performance to October 1996 and our tour manager was Malcolm Kingsnorth and the actor Kevin Eldon provides excellent support as Quinlank and a man pretending to be Rod Hull pretending to be Ice T. There are some references that feel like they're from another century (because they are) including a long bit about an audience member who has claimed to be Fred Harris' son and me asking Stew, "Are you on the internet?" as well as saying "Did you remember to escape to MS DOS?" which I don't understand now. It was recorded the day before we were due to appear on the Richard and Judy show with the Spice Girls and both the character and the real Richard Herring are clearly over excited about that. But there's also a fun bit where we discuss the difference between the character and the real Richard Herring and it is that the character really loves crisps, but the real me only quite likes them. We'd both eat crisps if they were offered to us, but the real me would be more in control about it.

Tantalisingly I describe Stew as looking like a mourner at Russ Abbot's funeral, so I am guessing he was in his slightly Teddy boy phase. All that is lost is the very beginning of each half, the start of the Teachers sketch (though there is enough to get the gist) and a bit of the Rod Hull/Ice T sketch (again not enough to ruin anything). There's an interesting bit at the start of the second half when two audience members leave. It amazes me then (and now) that they had come back from the interval in order to walk out before the second half has even begun. I didn't really have the chops to deal with it at the time. It worries me a bit, but I boldly (and stupidly) ask Stew if now those men have seen through us whether the rest of the audience will to. It's actually quite an interesting gambit. But I think I was genuinely shaken by it (I refer to it again later).

I am delighted we have some kind of record of a Lee and Herring tour and hopefully we'll be releasing this as a download in order to help finance the expensive release of TMWRNJ (or TMWSLNR whatever it was called). It's a long show and some of it is a bit crap, but most of it is very funny and it's interesting to see how far we've progressed in 17 years. Both of us have a slightly annoying, slow and sarcastic delivery and there are still traces of Monty Python in some of my reactions. So it's an interesting study in the evolution of our personae.

We were funnier than we realised we were, I think. Maybe not as clever as we thought we were, but cleverer in a different way than we knew perhaps.

I was a prick though and sympathised with Stew for having to deal with me, which I certainly didn't at the time.

Congrats to Nicholas Blair who won the May monthly subscribers draw and gets my Chortle goodie bag. If you want to be in the running for future prizes then donate a pound (or more - every pound counts as an extra entry) a month here. You also get a bonus channel of extra content and are helping to fund future projects.



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My new stand up show, Lord of the Dance Settee will be touring from October 2014 to May 2015 All details here.
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