Richard Herring’s multi-award-winning and perennially popular live podcast interview show will tour this autumn. Dubbed “the best celeb interviewer in Britain” (The Guardian), Richard’s RHLSTP has continuously made headlines over the years due to candid and thought-provoking conversations that create a different atmosphere to the usual celebrity interview. Stephen Fry's revelation that he once tried to commit suicide is one such example and, earlier this year, an interview with Les Dennis went viral. Herring's other guests include comedy royalty such as Dawn French, Bob Mortimer, Sarah Milican and Steve Coogan and Run-Riot got in touch to find out what Herring has in store for the touring show.
For those unfamiliar with Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, what can people expect from the live show?
If only there was some way to listen back to the 250+ I’ve done and get a feel for it... It’s a usually funny chat between me and an interesting guest in which I try to avoid the obvious and well trodden interview questions and find some stories that you won’t have heard before. But it is different every time.
Which guests are you keen to interview who haven't already appeared on the podcast?
Michael Palin, Michael Parkinson, Chris Morris, Jennifer Saunders... But I'd also love to get some Hollywood A-Listers on the show.
How do you put your more hesitant guests at ease and encourage them to open up?
Flattery mainly or telling them embarrassing stories about myself so they don’t have to worry about theirs. Some people are just shy and a bit more reticent though, so I just have to try and do a bit more stuff about me on those ones.
What has been your most uncomfortable experience in an interview?
They’ve mainly been great, but when it goes wrong it’s usually because the guest has had too much to drink. I mildly misjudged the one with Stephen Merchant, cos we’d been messing around and poking fun and so I failed to spot he’d actually taken a bit of umbrage in the end, and the one with the guest who was the most wasted was actually a fun challenge for me. There was one where I felt the guest seemed intent on causing me discomfort, but we cut out most of that in the edit.
Do you find you can sometimes slip into 'interview mode' when encountering celebrities 'offstage'?
I rarely meet celebs off stage and I am a much shyer personality in real life, so it’s likely I will feel too awkward to talk to them. I am usually too self-conscious even to enquire about them coming on the show, but the interview thing is just for the podcast.
You raised money for Refuge by responding to asinine tweets decrying International Women's Day (March 8th) and asking for an International Men's Day (which already exists on November 19th). What was your motivation behind this? Do you think the men asking this question are wilfully ignorant or insidiously prejudiced?
The joke is a simple one. Lots of silly people (not always men) think they are being clever by pointing out that there’d never be an International Men’s Day because of political correctness gone mad. I tell them there is one. I think they are not being wilfully ignorant - they are just ignorant and too sure of themselves even to google it, just to be sure. It’s pretty much as simple as that, but with the added joke of the self-defeating nature of the King Cnut style task I have set myself. I didn’t think about trying to raise money from it for years. It was just a nice meeting point of stupidity and my own dogged pedantry. It’s a pretty horrible day for me to be honest, but raising the money has helped make it seem less so.
How do you think the world of podcasting is evolving? Do you think there's a chance we'll see an upswing in news podcasts to counteract increasing mainstream media bias?
It’s hard to know where podcasting will go, beyond the fact that we now have an open medium of expression where people can try what they want on a fairly level playing field. It’s a meritocracy where anything that is good has a chance of success. I am not sure that podcasts are any more reliable than any other medium when it comes to news though. Good journalists and biased ones can have podcasts, just like in the supposedly mainstream media. And there’s zero checks and balances for podcasts so I’d say it was much more likely to be used for propaganda.
You've maintained a daily blog - Warming Up - since 2002. That's quite a commitment. Do you look forward to the ritual of writing each update or are there some days when it seems like a chore?
Some days it comes easy, other days it is a pain, especially now I am a dad and so many of my days are the same. But when I hit a rich seam it is really worth it. It’s more of a writing exercise and I’ve got better at just getting on with it and not worrying if inspiration doesn’t strike.
You've written a number of non-fiction books ranging from memoir to comedic conversation starters. Do you think you have a novel in you?
Writing books is the hardest of all writing and writing novels probably the hardest of all books. I would like to do something comic or something high concept that would be difficult in any other medium.
Are there any questions you'd refuse to answer when being interviewed yourself?
No. You can always just lie. Or deflect. Or answer a different question. But I am self-destructively honest, so will have a go at most questions and answer as honestly as possible.
Richard Herring is on a
national tour with his acclaimed interview podcast RHLSTP. The next
London show is at the Richmond Theatre on Sunday 29th September.