|What does FAQ mean?|
It means "Frequently Asked Questions".
How do I become a writer/comedian? I have written a script, will you read it?
Much as it is flattering to have people ask me my opinion of their work, I have a policy that I do not read any unsolicited scripts sent to me by post or email. This is partly because I get so many that there isn't time for me to read them all, partly because if I don't read them then no-one can claim that I have ripped them off. Also I'm finding it hard enough to get my own scripts produced and there's little I can do for you.
It may seem like a long slog to get going in this business, but I am afraid that is just the way things are. To begin with it is a relentless procedure of sending stuff to producers and trying to get noticed. This can take time even if you are really good. Be aware of the possibility that you might not actually be any good. You might think you are (and in my experience this kind of confidence usually only comes from people who are exceptionally brilliant or terribly awful - most of us in the middle doubt our abilities. If you don't doubt yours, at least consider the possibility that you might be useless, but take comfort in the fact that you might be a genius. Oh you were already).
The great thing about being a writer and/or a comedian is that there's nothing to stop you working and working. You can put on shows at college or work or do open spots and you can always write. My advice is keep writing. Write a lot. Try it out on your friends. Listen to what they have to say. Don't give up cos one person doesn't like it. If 500 people don't like it then maybe think about trying something else or getting some new friends.
It would be nice to just get discovered and get your own TV show, but this isn't how it works and actually I think you need to put in a few years of hard work to understand your craft a bit. I am constantly learning about writing and performing. Be open to learn. I have found writing the blog extremely helpful in developing a prose style. You can easily do something like that.
A lot of people say they don't want to do stand-up or come to London or whatever and you don't have to. But if you want to do well then you will have to work hard at it and make sacrifices and do things that you don't necessarily want to do.
Send your scripts to producers whose radio or TV shows you like, or look out for shows with lots of writers and try and write something in that style and send it in. It's unlikely that anyone is going to commission your film script from nothing, so start a bit smaller. Meeting producers who like your work is a great way to get on. It will not be an overnight thing, but show willing and work hard and don't expect early rewards and if you're any good things should happen for you.
If you get a chance try and do a show in Edinburgh. Again you probably won't be discovered there, but you will learn a lot from the experience. This is why I keep going back and trying new things. But it costs a lot of money (Talking Cock sold out in 2002 and I lost £7000). In the early days you will probably have to sacrifice and live mainly off baked potatoes.
You can read more of my thoughts about comedy writing in my Guardian Guide to writing comedy - http://www.richardherring.com/archive/downloads.php?s=&p=357&f=1092
Or you can also view it here - http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/richardherring
If you have written radio scripts a good place to send them is
Radio Comedy Scripts
379-381 Euston Square
London NW1 3AU
Treatments for quiz, panel and sketch show formats and other entertainment formats should be sent to
BBC Radio Comedy
99 Great Portland St
London W1A 1AA
Visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/ for more tips and details.
The Writer's Handbook has details on how to make submissions - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Writers-Handbook-2011-Publishers-Broadcasters/dp/0230207294/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1310231520&sr=8-1
Beccy, a student who wants to be a writer, asked me by email what makes a good newspaper column?
Don't be scared about being fobbed off. There is a lot of rejection in the life of a writer and it's good to get it in early and get used to it! But also the more you write the better you will get so it's brilliant to start early. And you never know your stuff might be great from the start.
My biggest piece of advice about writing a column would be to get in as much practice as possible. I write a daily blog, which is quite a tough ask as not that much interesting happens to me, but it forces me to look at the minutiae of my day and try and find something amusing or interesting in there. YOu don't have to put this up online of course, you can do it just for yourself. But the more practiced you get at looking at a situation and trying to describe it and squeeze the interest out of it the better you will get at doing it. A column has to be a bit more precise than a blog and it's probably good to get some practice at getting an idea over in 500 or 600 words. My metro column is 600 which is a really good length - short, but still amazing how much you can get across in that time if you work at it. It becomes a skill to say things more precisely and make every word count.
A lot of my stuff is personal experience or about things that intrigue or amuse me. A good column will be a personal viewpoint or observation and as such this can't be taught. You've got to find your own voice and your own way of doing stuff and what makes your stuff worth reading to a complete stranger. The things that you are passionate or confused about is a good place to start. But it's all about observation of others and yourself. You have to have a strong idea of your own faults and weirdness if you're going to write about others.
You say you have little opportunity to practice, but you're a writer so you can practice all day long. You don't need everything to be seen by others and you will learn by doing this. In time you will probably be glad that your early work was not put on public display, but we can only get better by taking leaps of faith, having a go, producing rubbish, learning and honing. Believing you're a good writer is a great start and important as is ambition. But much as you might want the world to know all about you now it's a good thing to take your time. However great you are now you will be better in a year and much better in five years. But you will never be finished or perfect and it's important to always be open to learning and to not think you know it all (not saying that you are saying that) .
Writing is a wonderful, frustrating, heart-breaking and heart-warming job. Good luck with it.
If I could boil this down to one word - write
Do you have any DVDS out?
The Hercules, Yoghurt, menage a un, Oh F*** I'm 40, Headmaster's Son, Hitler Moustache, Christ on a Bike, What is Love Anyway? and Fist of Fun series 1 DVDs are now available at www.gofasterstripe.com. There are also some podcasts and books available from them. Talking Cock will be out on DVD in the summer of 2013.
Is there a DVD of "Talking Cock"?
We will be filming the show in April 2013 and it should be released a couple of weeks after that.
There is a DVD release of the French version of Talking Talk, "Qu-est-ce que Sexe?"
Will you RT me on Twitter? Why did you block me? (and other Twitter issues)
I am on Twitter as @Herring1967 and if you want to follow that is cool. You can ask questions on there or make comments and I will almost certainly read them and reply if possible - but bear in mind that I am unlikely to respond to questions that can more easily be answered by Google or things that I have already just said in my timeline - so do check these sources first.
If you are abusive or offensive or over familiar then I will probably block you. Even if you think you are joking - often that's very hard to distinguish in a tweet - there is no excuse for being rude. Jokes that might work well coming from a friend are not funny coming from a stranger. If you complain about my tweets I might also save you the trouble of unfollowing me by blocking you. I have quite a thick skin, but it's worth considering the impact of what you're saying and how you would feel if a stranger popped up without introduction and said something like that to you. It's only rude if you @ someone in when you're being unpleasant about them, incidentally. You can be as rude about me as you like, but no need to direct the message to me. That's just showing off and childish. I am all for constructive criticism and you're welcome to say you haven't enjoyed something I've done. It's just pointless rudeness that I am talking about.
Here's some questions that I probably won't answer (with the answers)
Will you please RT my charity/gig/book/website/blog/video?
As I get asked to RT charity requests or links to pages or videos several times an hour it is not practical or sensible for me to RT them all. And if I did it would make them meaningless in any case because it would just annoy people. I support a handful of charities and don't want to dilute the work I do for them by boring people with 100s of RTs, which they won't even click on because they are coming too frequently. And it would also seems unfair to RT ones at random. So in order to stop my timeline clogged with RTs I have a policy that I don't RT anything when asked to do so by people I don't know. Obviously if something tickles or interests me on Twitter I might RT it, but that is through choice rather than request. I wish you good luck in whatever you're doing, but don't be offended that I don't RT.
Why do you tweet about your gigs all the time?
I think I give more content and comments and gags on Twitter than most people. I love using it. Occasionally I will publicise something I am doing, because some of my followers want that service. If you don't like being told about what I am up to then it's up to you to either not follow me or to just skim by the tweets that give such info. It's pretty easy to tell them from the others. Your time can't be that precious or you wouldn't be on Twitter. But the way Twitter works is that people tweet what they want and people choose to follow who they want. If you don't like the content of someone you are following then that is your fault not theirs. Just unfollow quietly and find people you enjoy. But the truth is that only about one in ten of my tweets are promotional. Given this is a free service it seems churlish to complain about me trying to promote myself. Twitter is not a service dedicated to just you and I have to take into account the wishes of all my followers.
Are there any tickets left for tonight's show?
I don't know. Please check with the venue.
When are you next gigging in my town?
Please go to the gig guide on this website where all upcoming gigs will be listed.
Why isn't your tour coming to my town?
I am booked by the theatres rather than choosing which place I want to play and sometimes even if the theatre wants me we can't find a mutually agreeable slot. But I do travel around the country for at least a third of the year and try to come to as many places as possible, so if you want me to come to your town then contact your local venue and ask them to book me.
Is Stewart Lee on Twitter?
No, he has declared that he never will be.
Can you tell Stewart Lee that he should be on Twitter?
I have done. He never will be.
I want to be a writer/comedian. How do I start? This and other questions are answered in the FAQ section you're reading now.
Why do you feel the need to have a list of questions rather than answering my question individually?
I have over 60,000 followers. Many of them ask similar questions. In order to give me some time to have a life and do my job and kiss my girlfriend, it's easier to give a link to responses to the most frequently asked questions.
I don't think you're funny - why don't you stop doing comedy?
I have a limited appeal, but there are some people who like what I do. Rather than deprive them of my comedy it's probably easier if you just don't watch my stuff or follow me on Twitter. But if I was you I'd also try and look into yourself and work out why you felt it necessary to tell me this in the first place. It suggests a deficiency or oddness within you. Most people just ignore the things they don't like and certainly don't feel the need to search out a person they dislike to tell them about their hatred. Maybe try to use Twitter in a more positive way by contacting the people you like, rather than trying to make up for some insecurity in yourself by being unpleasant to people who you don't. Just a thought. It doesn't upset me that you don't like me. It just makes me pity you a bit that you felt the need to tell me. Cos I already know that not everyone in the world finds me funny! It might be worth considering the option that it YOU who is the dick. Then you can stop being one.
You have bored/offended me so I am unfollowing you - What do you think of that?
I really don't mind or care. That's the way Twitter is. There's no need to tell me you're leaving and I won't notice if you do. Telling me about it again just makes you look pompous, needy and self-obsessed. I only want people following me who are enjoying what I am doing. Sorry you didn't like what I was doing, but no hard feelings. Bye!
Is there any Richard Herring merchandise I can get my hands on? Can I have a signed photo?
I don't have signed photos, but will happily sign a Talking Cock/Hercules/Yoghurt/menage a un/headmaster's son/Hitler Moustache/Christ on a Bike/ What is Love, Anyway? programme for you and send it to you for a small charity donation to my justgiving page.
If you want a signed programme then donate at least 5 pounds on http://www.justgiving.com/whatislove/ and then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, telling me which programme or programmes you would like and send me your address.
There are only a handful of copies of the menage a un programme so you will have to pay at least £10 for that one.
You can buy DVDs and posters of previous shows at http://www.gofasterstripe.com/
My book "How Not To Grow Up" is still available. You can still buy second hand copies of the "Talking Cock" book and even the Lee and Herring one online. But I am in talks with the publisher to do another print run of Talking Cock so don't spend more than a tenner on it.
Will Lee and Herring be getting back together again?
In 1999 Jane Root cancelled TMWRNJ. I think both Stew and me were upset by this. The double act just seemed to be getting somewhere interesting and it had been a great good fun show to do. I think we would have liked to have done another series or two, but were also both keen to do stuff on our own after ten fairly intense years of working together.
Given no-one was offering us work together we were forced to go off and do our own things (though Stew was a main cog in the wheel that was TGP) and have both enjoyed some success. So in the short term I think it is unlikely that we'll be getting back together to do anything. We're both pretty busy and have diversified somewhat and I think five years on going back to the same kind of schtick would seem a bit out of place. Personally I am quite glad to leave the "Herring" character from Lee and Herring behind. It was a sort of parody of myself at 18, which would seem a strange thing still to be doing at 40.
But I really miss working with Stew and I think we would still have something to offer together so you never know. There had been talk of a sit-com about Hostages back in 2000, which I'd still like to do and something like the old radio shows would be fun too. We'll have to wait and see. But for the moment Lee and Herring are safely kept in storage at the BBC, next to the Glam Metal Detectives.
We did ten minutes together at a Ted Chippington tribute show in February 2007 and another gig at the Lyric Hammersmith in November 2008, but there are no current plans to do any more.
We are working together on a DVD release of Fist of Fun with Chris Evans (not that one) from gofasterstripe. The first series with lots of extras will be released in time for Christmas 2011.
Is there a video/DVD of Fist of Fun, TMWRNJ or Time Gentlemen Please?
We have bought the rights to both series of Fist of Fun and they will be released in series box sets in 2011 and 2012.
If we do not lose loads of money on these I suspect we will do the same for TMWRNJ
A box set of "Time Gentlemen Please" is available of DVD. You can get it ridiculously cheaply on Amazon. If you have satellite TV you can often catch this series on Paramount or Sky anyway. Look out for the bean-faced postman.
When will you be back on telly?
I am doing bits and pieces of TV work every now and again. On quizzes and satellite TV mainly.
I appeared in the comedy drama "You Can Choose Your Friends" which was broadcast in June 2007. .
Other than that I am open to offers, so you never know!
Why are all your gigs in London? Why don't you come and gig in the theatre/arts centre in my town?
I work all over the country and the people in London are often forced to watch half-conceived pieces which I'm trying to get into shape to put on somewhere else. Over the last decade I have toured pretty extensively throughout the UK and in all likelihood have been on in a town near to you.
Sign up to the newsletter or keep your eye on my gig guide and you will be kept informed of all my gigs.
If you would like me to come to your town then get in touch with your local theatre/arts centre/comedy club and ask them to book me. Tell them to get in touch with the Avalon live department and they will know who to contact. If enough of you want to see me then the theatre will book me. I am still building up a solo live audience, so if you are a fan then it is important that you come to the gigs in order to prove to the venues that I am worth booking. In some places this is certainly working. In others (Carlisle), it is not.
Someone likes yoghurt. Is it you?
I like yoghurt no more or less than any ordinary lactose tolerant person. Do not believe the rumours.