GQ Blog - http://www.gqmagazine.co.uk/blog/default.aspx?id=5
Chris Rock vs Richard Herring
Posted at 16:23 on 27 May 2008
This Bank Holiday weekend, while Chris Rock was breaking records performing to over 14,000 people at the 02 Arena, another equally as respected comic (albeit in smaller, more refined circles) was road-testing his 2008 Edinburgh show to a sold-out crowd of 150 at the Kingâ€™s Head Theatre in Islington. Richard Herringâ€™s new show is about what it was like for him growing up as the son of the headmaster. It is, not entirely unexpectedly, titled Headmasterâ€™s Son.
While Rock is â€“ rightly - admired and respected, Herring is utterly adored by his fans. Little of Herringâ€™s output could be described as lazy or lacklustre, which you couldnâ€™t say about Rockâ€™s. In years to come, the former will be remembered as the best comic of his generation mastering every comedic art form â€“ writing bestselling books, performing in award winning stand-up shows, writing and staring in primetime ITV1 comedy dramas. He is a one-man comedy tornado, ripping up every comedic outlet that crosses his path.
I was compering the gig on Sunday night and we were all having a lovely time. I found it easy eliciting laughter from the merry Bank Holiday crowd, but talking to Mr Herring backstage I always find myself dry-mouthed, awkward and shy - as I do every time I see him.
Why is this? I can perform for hundreds of drunken punters, have met many of my heroes and have interviewed the likes of Rachel Weisz, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scarlett Johansson (on her hotel bed, no less), for GQ magazine. But faced with true comic genius, I just dry up.
I actually met Chris Rock after one of his shows at the Apollo and we got on swimmingly. Rock is also one of my heroes but I didnâ€™t find myself remotely as starstruck as I was with Herring. I always find myself lost for words wanting to talk eloquently with him about our shared passions but I cannot quite get over how much I admire him. Along with Stewart Lee, he devised two of the greatest comedy shows of my teens (Fist Of Fun and This Morning With Richard Not Judy) and they were to my generation what Monty Python was to my fatherâ€™s. The fact that since then they have eschewed fame and fortune (not entirely by choice admittedly) and continued to consistently produce exemplary comedy is something to be admired in this age of selling out becoming an accepted norm (hereâ€™s looking at you Mitchell and Webb).
It seems too early to tip the best show of this yearâ€™s Edinburgh fringe, but from what Iâ€™ve seen of the work in progress, my moneyâ€™s on Headmasterâ€™s Son. I just wish I had the confidence to tell him so.