Cheddar Valley Gazette Pithy Profile

Richard Herring: Dad ate my lip balm

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pithy Profile was a one-liner feature we ran at the turn of the millennium. Now it’s back.
This week: Richard Herring, 45, comedian and son of ex-headmaster Keith Herring, originally of Cheddar but now of London.

Richard Herring on why he's funnier than his dad and his home village of Cheddar
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Q. Was having your dad as the head teacher of Kings of Wessex School a good or bad thing for you?
A. Probably a bit of both. I did as show called The Headmaster’s Son where I tried to blame my adult deficiencies on this childhood misfortune.

But I concluded that although it led to some awkwardness and suspicion from many of my classmates that they quickly forgot about it.
Also my dad seems to have been enormously popular with his pupils (if ever I meet anyone who went to school they ask after him before they ask after me!) so if I do have any issues they were probably within me already.
It’s only as an adult that I realise how difficult it must have been for him.
Q. Do you get your sense of humour from him, or did he get it from you?
A. Dad likes to think that he is funny, but I am not sure that I agree.
At least he¬ís not often funny on purpose ¬Ė he¬ís pretty hilarious accidentally.
Some might argue the same is true of me though!
Q. How often do you return to Cheddar and what do you do when you visit?
A. I usually make it back four or five times a year.
My parents and my sister and her family are still based there, so I mainly hang out with them.
But I like to go for runs around the reservoir (even if it takes me twice as long to get round now as it did when I was a teenager) and going for walks on the hills.
I also have added King’s Theatre as a regular stop on my tours.
Q. Do you get stopped on the street and asked for autographs?
A. I am fortunate in that I am well known enough to make a nice living doing a job I love, but not so well known that my life is disrupted by it.
Very occasionally in London a stranger will say hello which is a nice thing.
The people of Cheddar certainly don’t bother me with such stuff. I am only the ex-headmaster’s son to them, if I am anything!
Q. What’s the funniest thing Keith’s said to you?
A. At my wedding there were little tubs of lip balm at every place setting. Dad ate his thinking that it was cheese.
Like I say, he is much funnier by accident than he is on purpose.
He also once offered to be my manager. That made me laugh.
Especially when he told me I should give my fee back to a theatre when I hadn’t sold many tickets!
Q. What has been your biggest achievement?
A. I think just to carry on working in this competitive job for such a long time.
I have got to the point where nearly all my work is self-created, so I am my own little business, albeit one that markets in saucy gags.
There were plenty of times when I could have given up, so my persistence and longevity are more important to me than temporary fame or accolades.
Q. In your private life, who or what never bores you, and why?
A. My wife of course is never boring or predictable. There’s no telling what will happen next.
However hard I have worked at keeping the house tidy or whatever she will always manage to pinpoint something that I have failed to do!
She is amazing and I am ridiculously fortunate to have her.
Q. What is your favourite place in the Cheddar Valley?
A. I have a lot of affection for Cheddar Gorge, from playing arcade games when I was young, drinking cider there when I was a little older (but still officially too young) and working there as a cave guide.
I have written a few scripts revolving around the place (or a similar place) but so far none of them have been produced.
I still love walking or driving up the gorge and taking in those cliffs.
Q. What is your least favourite place in the Cheddar Valley?
A. Shipham Hill. Because I spent many unhappy hours struggling up there on my bike as a teenager to see my first girlfriend (a Cheddarite and a Shiphamite getting together despite our rivalry? It was like Romeo and Juliet).
I also once came off a bike when free-wheeling down, so there was pain in both directions.
Q. What is your guilty pleasure?
A. Wasting hours playing games like New Star Soccer or Yahtzee Adventure on my iPhone
Q. What period of history would you like to have lived in, and what job would you have liked to do?
A. I would have loved to have lived in ancient Roman times.
Pompeii is my favourite place in the world.
I’d like to have been a performer still, but in the theatres rather than as lion-bait.
Q. Is there anything you have regretted not doing in life?
A. I haven’t had kids yet, but luckily there is still time.
I gave up a few things for my career and overall I think it was worth the sacrifices, but as I get older I realise that the things that drove me when I was younger were largely illusionary.
But I am also glad that I didn’t settle down too young, because I appreciate what I have a whole lot more now.
Q. Have you any ambition unfulfilled?
A. I’d love to get one of my Cheddar based scripts on to the television.
I think that there are plenty more things for me to do.
And it would be nice to get two or three of them completed in the next 40 years.
But I am also very happy with where I am now.
To carry on working until I die would be enough for me. Especially if I die in 2067.
Q. If you had to write your epitaph what would it be?
A. He’s dead. But how’s his dad doing?
Comedian Richard Herring turns auctioneer next month.
He will be hosting a promises auction in aid of Cheddar Youth Trust on Friday, May 17, at 7.30pm in Church House, Cheddar.
There will be 50 promises to bid on, a ploughman’s supper and, of course, humour.
Trust chairman and the comedian¬ís father, Keith Herring, said: ¬ďWe have to limit the number of tickets available so if people are interested they need to let us know. When we last did it four years ago tickets were in great demand so we had a full house and a really successful evening.¬Ē
Tickets from Jennie Colton on 01934 742703 or Jan Rance on 01934 743932.

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