Interview with the VOID website
Legend has it that life begins at 40. It’s the age that you should be able to take stock of your life, look at what you have achieved, and feel content. That, or like my English teacher at school, have a breakdown and run off with the secretary.
Richard Herring has taken a different approach to it, he’s written a show called Oh F*ck I’m Forty, and taken up skateboarding. “The show is basically a stand-up show loosely themed around a childish man having to come to terms with the fact that he is getting old. Life doesn’t begin at 40, but one can certainly say that childhood is dead by this point. Thus I am contending with a mid-life crisis and the fact that my profession means I have to stay artificially puerile. All this, plus skateboarding and some jokes.”
Rising to fame in the 90s as part of Lee and Herring (I’ll leave you to work out which one he was), Richard Herring has spent the last 15 years shows like Fist of Fun, and This Morning with Richard Not Judy, as well as his own solo shows like Christ on a Bike, Excavating Rita and Talking Cock (the male version of the Vagina Monologues). With so much material previously performed, does he have a problem with people shouting catchphrases at him?
“It hardly happens at all, so when it does happen it is not that annoying. People usually shout ‘You want the moon on a stick!’ but it was Stew who wanted that, so I tell them that. Sometimes people will say some strange sentence to me and I don’t know what they mean and they have to explain that it’s a line from some sketch or other that I have forgotten, but to be honest I can pretty much go about my daily life without too much danger of being recognised.”
As well as all of this performing, Richard has also for the last four years posted daily on his own blog Warming Up, which has racked up an impressive 1752 entries. “Sometimes this is a slight worry, but although there are recurring themes (procrastination, weight gain/loss, bad gigs) I think I usually manage to keep it fresh. As it’s mainly based on my life and things that have happened to me or that I’ve seen, I can usually think of something new, though occasionally it’s hard to think of anything at all, so not all 1752 are classics.”
With nearly 20 years in the business, Richard Herring has nearly become as much a part of the Edinburgh Fringe as being pestered by flyers or 36 hour sleeping patterns, so how does he cope with the Edinburgh experience? “A typical day for me at the Fringe involves me generally sleeping until noon, watching TV until about six, and then popping over to the Underbelly to do
my show before going out and getting drunk. I have missed a few Fringes since I first came here in the eighties but this is still the 16th out of 21 possible Fringes. Not bad for someone entering their fifth decade.”
So can he see himself becoming the next Arthur Smith? “Arthur Smith is one of my Edinburgh heroes and it would be amazing if people mentioned me in the same breath as him. I think people are starting to notice how much work I have put into the Fringe, but it largely goes unremarked. If I got an acknowledgement of my achievement I would probably stop. It’s really that easy to make me go away.”