Review of Wolverhampton Literature Festival

Richard Herring opens up on cancer and mortality in candid chat at Wolves Lit Fest

By James Vukmirovic Published: Feb 4, 2023

The story of a cancer diagnosis wouldn’t normally be the basis for a funny and heartfelt memoir about the idea of being a man.

However, “Can I Have My Ball Back?” by Richard Herring manages to take what would be a shocking moment in anyone’s life and make light of it through the very funny and vivid words of the veteran comedian.

The book, written about his testicular cancer diagnosis in 2021 and his thoughts about masculinity and maleness in society, is a chance for Richard to look at his own testing times following his diagnosis and the emotions he went through.

Appearing at the Wolverhampton Literature Festival for the first time since 2019, the star of Fist of Fun and Taskmaster and the host of the Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast podcast was in good form as he talked about his life and his new book.

Speaking to host Mark Cartwright aka Gingerbeard Mark, Richard was candid about the moment he found out he had cancer, but also provided vivid imagery about his treatment, regularly leaving the room in hysterics through his fast-paced and, at times, very filthy language.

Richard spoke about the scans he went through, including having to cover up his manhood to “protect his dignity” and saying how the only people who saw his testicles were his wife Catie, doctors and strangers at the gym.

He spoke very warmly about Catie, saying she went above and beyond in helping treat him after his operation, including by putting cream on a place he couldn’t reach.

While it was a light-hearted talk, Richard also spoke about how he had been worried about leaving his wife and children alone if he had died, and praised the NHS, saying that they had every right to strike as they went the extra mile to help people despite poor pay.

In what was more of a chat than a formal interview, Mark Cartwright kept the flow going with questions around Richard’s outlook on life, how he created a puppet of his testicle for an online podcast and ideas for a new book, with Richard hinting about a book about answering impossible questions from children.

Richard Herring said having cancer helped him think more about his life, not just his career, and said the book hadn’t been planned, but had been easy to write due to the experience of having had cancer, even one he said had a 99 per cent survival rate: “What if I’m the one per cent?”

“Can I Have My Ball Back?” by Richard Herring can be bought by going to