Metro 57

Richard Herring: WritingÂ’s like being bitten in the privates by a giant radioactive rodent
Friday 22 Mar 2013 6:00 am

In the early 1990s, I met Jimmy Tarbuck backstage at a TV recording. I told him that I was trying to make it as a stand-up comedian. ‘Good luck, son,’ he said, as he puffed on his cigar, ‘Stand-up is the hardest job in the world.’

I strongly disagree. Stand-up is not as hard as being a fireman or a brain surgeon or a member of the SAS or (given that it mainly involves talking for a bit, then getting drunk, taking drugs and trying to get off with members of the audience) as hard as whatever job youÂ’re probably commuting to right now. Unless you work in advertising. In which case your job is to just steal something someone else has done and skip straight to the booze, drugs and sex bit. You should be ashamed.

Most people would probably rather eat their own liver than have to stand in bright lights in front of a darkened audience who are expecting you to make them laugh. But then most people arenÂ’t an egotistical, insecure show-off who craves the approval of strangers. Last night, I worked for 90 whole minutes with only a 20-minute break in the middle. And everyone applauded me. Does that happen at 10.30am at your work place? ItÂ’s a weird vocation but itÂ’s not a hard one. Stand-up is pimpsy, Tarbuck, you arrogant buffoon.

In actual fact, the hardest job in the world is writing a light-hearted weekly newspaper column. Every Friday, I get a little burst of pride as I see my piece published and have people tweet me to say theyÂ’ve found it mildly amusing. I am on cloud nine but only for a few seconds, because clouds are made of vapour and cannot support the weight of even a slim human.

So I am quickly tumbling to Earth with the realisation that it is time to write another column. You think itÂ’s easy to come up with 600 words a week about willies, farts or arguments IÂ’ve had with people on buses? Well youÂ’re wrong.

Writing is like pulling teeth. Not out of your mouth. That would be easy. Writing is like pulling teeth out of your genitals. ItÂ’s like being bitten in your stalk and pods by a massive radioactive rodent. You try to prise its jaws open and, after much struggle, you manage to. But the ratÂ’s adamantine teeth have come loose from its gums and are still piercing your bleeding and mutilated privates. And when you attempt to extract them you discover they are burning hot and have barbs on them, like fishing hooks, which are exuding acid and the norovirus into your blood.

ItÂ’s exactly like that. If you canÂ’t be bothered to try writing, just do that instead and youÂ’ll know what my job is like.

The problem is that finishing writing is like waking up to find that the whole radioactive rodent thing was a dream, and that far from being mutilated and full of acidy disease, your penis has miraculously doubled in length and is studded with strategically placed jewels which simultaneously make you the greatest lover in the world and the richest man who has ever lived. Which is why you then willingly agree to place your knob into a cage of leprous monkeys with eyes that shoot lasers and which live on a diet of over-sized jewel encrusted genitalia.

This metaphor may sound ridiculous but itÂ’s uncannily accurate. So next time youÂ’re complaining about how tough your job is, please spare a thought for me.

Hardest job in the world.