Interview with The Daily Chuckle

Last week, I contacted one of my comedy hero’s – Richard Herring. I've been a fan of Rich’s Writing, Podcasts and Stand-up for many years and have now, probably seen, heard and read a fair amount of Rich’s extensive work.

Richard Herring is a fantastic stand-up comic and is one BritainÂ’s most popular and iconic comedians.

Between 1992 and 2000, Richard was one half of comedy double act ‘Lee and Herring’ along with Stewart Lee. In 1991 ‘Lee and Herring’ wrote material for Armando Iannucci’ and Chris Morris’s ‘On the Hour’ and contributed to the creation of the great Alan Partridge.

After his departure from ‘Lee and Herring’ in 2000, Rich began his wonderful solo career in which he wrote and performed a large body of one-man shows.

From 2000- present, Rich has had a different one-man show out almost every year and regularly performs at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Rich also co-wrote the amazing sitcom ‘Time Gentleman Please’ along with Al Murray which was based in the pub landlord’s own pub. Rich has written for many other TV shows such as Little Britain and That was then, This is now.

In 2002, Richard created his own blog -‘Warming up’ which has also contributed to his comedy work in Stand-up, writing and Podcasts. - and

To my absolute surprise, Rich agreed to do this interview. It's fair to say that i'm stunned!

So, here it is! My chat with the legend himself – Mr.Richard Herring :

1. How did you first get into comedy?
“I was a massive fan of comedy as a teenager. I wasn't really into music and just bought comedy albums like Monty Python and Pete and Dud which I learned off by heart. Then we started doing sketch shows at school. I knew I wanted to give comedy a go as a career, so when I went to University I went along to the fortnightly comedy club where I met Stewart Lee. We started writing together (with a few others) and it seemed to work well. We did shows at the Edinburgh Fringe in the late 80s and they seemed to go well enough for us to consider trying doing comedy in the real world, so we moved to London, started writing for the radio and performed on the stand up circuit. I preferred the former and gave up on stand up after a couple of years, but we got some breaks like writing for "On The Hour" and getting our own radio show and it all progressed from there.”

2. Was comedy always something you wanted to get into?

“Yes it was. I always liked making people laugh and people who could make me laugh. When I was 4 I wanted to be a clown so it goes back that far. I was a fairly obsessive comedy fan, though growing up in the countryside I didn't get a chance to see anything live. So TV shows like "The Young Ones" were my access point. Once we'd gone to the Edinburgh Fringe we started to see the other possibilities.”

3. Who has influenced you most as a comedian? Also what other comedians do you admire?
“Early on my influences were certainly the Monty Python team and Rik Mayall. But part of becoming a good comedian is finding your own voice. So although my early stuff was quite derivative the lesson I take from all my comedy heroes is to be original. I admire most comedians who can do this job and make a living from it, even if I don't particularly like their stuff. But at the moment I think Adam Buxton is one of the most exciting comedy voices in the UK. And I am a big fan of American sitcoms like 30 Rock, Community and Parks and Recreation.”

4. How would you describe yourself and your comedy?

“I think it's hard to describe oneself, but I make it more difficult by doing lots of different projects which all come at comedy from a different direction. My snooker podcast is very different from my Metro column and my persona in the Leicester Square Theatre podcast is not exactly the same as you get in my stand-up shows. And my stand-up shows do not run to the same formula as each other. Some are political, some quite broad, some quite comedically challenging. It's probably a mistake in terms of getting more popular that I am not easy to pin down and I often have people surprised that they like one aspect of my work because the one thing they'd encountered before had rubbed them up the wrong way. But I would rather be creating diverse work in all kinds of areas than sticking to the exact same rut and claiming that only one kind of comedy is valid. I want to try and be as good as possible in every medium I attempt.”

5. In your stand-up you often talk about things you hate, what do you despise the most about the topic of humanity?

“I am annoyed by selfishness and meanness and pettiness, all attributes that we all exhibit and I am most annoyed when I am guilty of them. I actually think that the small annoyances in life are worse than the big issues, because we all have control over the little things like basic politeness, whereas wiping out war or poverty is beyond our reach. Most of my comedy is directed in at myself though and my own stupidity gets to me more than other people's. It's funny to see me talk about it for 90 minutes but I have to live inside this stupid head all the time.”

6. In the 90’s you were part of comedy duo ‘Lee and Herring’. You’ve been hugely successful and gained a ‘cult’ following. How do you feel about that?

“It doesn't feel like something that actually happened and when I see it now I find it hard to compute that the chubby, garishly-shirted young man is me. It was amazing to have this early success (in terms of getting on to TV - we were never wildly popular), but I fear I was too young to appreciate what we had. It seemed like a natural progression rather than an amazing opportunity. But I am proud of most of the work we did and delighted that a small group of people enjoyed it and still hold it in great affection. In some senses it feels like a failure because it was taken away from us, but as an older, slightly wiser (or less stupid) man I am glad that it didn't become any bigger than it was. The set-backs we both faced afterwards and the fact that we still have to work to get our ideas out there has made us both much better comedians. I think if we'd have become properly famous back then that it would have harmed us both psychologically in different ways. I am glad to have been forced to go back to basics and reinvent myself and I would never have created my ten stand-up shows or any of the podcasts if it hadn't gone tits up!”

7. In 2000, you and Al Murray both wrote your wonderful sitcom ‘Time Gentleman Please!’ The show is filled lots of interesting characters, but in particular –Terry Brooks. What gave you the idea and inspiration to come up with such a funny, iconic character?

“I used to work in a pub and in the daytime three or four regulars would be in there drinking, every single day. Terry was partly based on those guys, I think, though I can't quite remember the full details. He was one of the first characters we came up with and possibly Al knew someone a bit like that as well. But I have a feeling we just constructed him mainly from our imaginations. The giant man and tiny lady with the tigger were based on a couple we had seen in a cinema. We just wondered what their story was and that's what we imagined!
I am glad you like the series. I am very proud of it. We were deliberately trying to go against the grain of fly-on-wall realism and have a sitcom that was a slight throwback but with modern elements like being very rude! Weirdly I suppose it's not a million miles away from Mrs Brown's Boys (which I don't particularly care for). If only we'd dressed Al up as a woman!”

8. You've done a lot of radio shows, but what show have you enjoyed making the most?

“I have great affection for the early stuff, especially Lionel Nimrod, but all radio shows involve a lot of work for not much financial reward and so I don't know how much I enjoyed any of them at the time. I was very pleased with Richard Herring's Objective and a bit surprised that I only got to do 9 of them.”

9. WhatÂ’s your favourite joke?

“I am not much good at jokes, but I like the one with the punchline "Lemon entry, my dear Watson.”

10. What's your favorite way of dealing with hecklers?
“Having them taken out and hanged by goons. But I am usually not allowed to do that. I prefer it when people don't heckle but if they have to it's best when they just come in with one line that you have to acknowledge was funny. They should then shut up. It is no fun dealing with the kind of persistent heckler who thinks they are funny, but who aren't, who won't shut up. I tend to deal with each of them in different ways dependent on what the situation is. It becomes a skill to judge how hard you need to go in. You should start fairly easy on them and then only lay into them if they are determined to ruin the gig or make it about themselves. I have a duty to entertain the whole audience so if one drunk ends up dominating or wrecking it then I have to try to shut them down and if they won't shut up they have to be thrown out in the end.”

11 You've also wrote many wonderful books, are you writing anything new at the moment?

“I am mainly writing TV scripts at the moment - or trying to, touring is getting in the way- I have a sitcom called Ra-Ra Rasputin in with the BBC which I really hope comes off (though the silence from the executives is deafening) and have a kids' TV show idea and a couple of comedy dramas about the West Country bubbling under. Stand up is taking up most of my time, but I am hoping to do a shorter tour next year to give me a chance to write some more. I'd quite like to write a book about my childhood and maybe my gap year.”

12. This year, you are performing yourÂ’ Edinburgh Fringe podcast showÂ’. Could you tell us about that?
“It's a daily improvised podcast where I interview and chat with some of the biggest names at the Fringe and give a showcase to some of the newer acts to do some stand-up. It's an exhausting and insane commitment and you can more or less draw a graph of my mental state and fatigue as it goes on, but it's lots of fun. You can come and see it live if you're in town, or just listen for free online. I am also doing a new stand up show called "We're All Going To Die!" but I haven't started writing it yet, so I'd better go and do that now.”

To find out more about Richard, please visit -
For gigs go here-
To see Richard at the Fringe this summer, buy tickets here -

Special thanks to the great Richard Herring- My Jesus of comedy.