Metro 75

Richard Herring: I want to be a fossil – but first, the Edinburgh Fringe

Friday 2 Aug 2013 6:00 am

Richard Herring wants to become a fossil – it’s the ultimate way to stick it to your peers and rivals
I am back in Edinburgh for my 22nd Fringe. This year my show is called ‘We’re All Going To Die!’ I am attempting the tricky combo of making people contemplate their own mortality, while making them laugh. Telling people they are guaranteed to die usually makes them cry but I like a challenge. And there is a funny side to death. Did you know that if all the people who’d ever died throughout history were to stand on the Isle of Wight, they would scare away all the tourists, seriously damaging that island’s fragile economy?
I do have a lot of questions about death. My main one is, if a serial killer kills another serial killer, does that work like conkers? But I am not afeared of death, because I am increasingly certain that I am immortal. So far, so good.
But if I am wrong and I do one day kick the bucket, that doesn’t mean I want you to laugh then. On the contrary. I want you to cry your eyes out and shout: ‘No, God. Why? How could you take someone so beautiful?’ I want my funeral to be full of all the women in my life who have ever rejected me, weeping and holding on to each other for support and wailing: ‘Why didn’t we make love with him when we had the chance?’ And then at the end of the service, I want them all to lez up. In honour of me. Give me in death what no one would give me in life.
But while our flesh must decay, perhaps we can achieve immortality in other ways. I am quite keen to become a fossil. It’s the ultimate way to stick it to your peers and rivals. Sure, you might not have achieved much in your eminently forgettable life but if you happen to just fall into the right mud pit or bog or be consumed by some lava, then you might outlive Shakespeare, Plato and even Justin Bieber.
Hundreds of thousands of years after every human being is dead, I might be discovered by an evolved-cockroach archaeologist and put in a museum. I hope that bored evolved-cockroach children will be made to draw a picture of my crumpled old face for their ancient history project. And I hope they capture the little smile that will be playing across my lips. Because all those people that I’ve come second to in my life will be nothing but dust blowing on the breeze and I will be held up as a prime (maybe only) example of humanity.
But, alas, nothing is permanent and one day the evolved-cockroach civilisation will crumble and the evolved-cockroach museum itself will fall and disappear. But, with luck, it will fall into a mud pit or bog or be consumed by lava, so that it too becomes a fossil, with the fossil of me fossilised inside.
Then, after even more eons have passed, my fossilised fossil will be discovered by alien archaeologists and placed in another museum in a faraway galaxy and I will live (in the broad sense which encompasses being dead) until our sun explodes and beyond. The only relic from our entire solar system. And so on.
I think that would put Hilary Kay’s one-point victory over me in Celebrity Mastermind into some kind of perspective. I just need to find the right volcano to jump into. If you have any ideas send them in to Metro. Please mark the envelope: ‘I would like Richard Herring to jump into a volcano.’
I appreciate your support.

Richard’s new show We’re All Going to Die! Is at Pleasance Beyond at 8pm daily throughout the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For tickets, see