Manchester City Life Preview of Headmaster's Son
Confessional Herring has common touch
By Marissa Burgess
Richard Herring: The Headmaster's Son
EVER since Sigmund Freud came up with his bum-squirmingly uncomfortable Oedipal theories about mum and dad, just about everybody has had a go at blaming their lifeâ€™s ills on their parents.
Poet Philip Larkin (â€˜they f**k you up, your mum and dadâ€™) and comic Richard Herring included.
While Larkin may have had a point, sadly Herring failed to pin anything on his.
Not even his Dad, who, he reveals in his latest show, was the Headmaster at his secondary school.
Now surely thatâ€™s enough to mess with anyoneâ€™s head? â€œI did go into it thinking, will I discover psychological repercussions from my childhood? Throughout my life Iâ€™ve always thought that being the headmasterâ€™s son is probably the reason why I behave like I do and then when you go into it you realise that it didnâ€™t really make much difference,â€ he laughs.
Menage A Un
The type of behaviour he is referring to is thoroughly covered in his two previous shows, Oh F*ck Iâ€™m Forty and before that Menage A Un.
Shows that provided the inspiration for The Headmasterâ€™s Son. â€œI think it does naturally come out of the forty thing, trying to look back and work out why I have become what I have. It was interesting to go back and look at that so I guess it follows on I suppose.â€
Donâ€™t worry if you didnâ€™t catch them, examples of his enjoyably childish behaviour are given a full recap in the latest show.
Not quite in an American serial â€˜previously on Ugly Bettyâ€™ kind of a way, but comprehensively covered nonetheless.
But what did Dad think about being the subject of one of his shows? That question will remain unanswered as Pa Herring, like fathers throughout the land, when it comes to emotions is a man of few words.
â€œIt was weird, that thing about English men that it was enough that we didnâ€™t really discuss it afterwards. But I think he liked it but itâ€™s hard to know, maybe he didnâ€™t like it.
"It was quite an affectionate portrayal of him. Again the showâ€™s much more about me, not really about being the headmasterâ€™s son itâ€™s about being a teenager.â€
Consequently there are plenty of embarrassing anecdotes and confessionals from his hormone imbued pubescence. Including some particularly colourful diary entries.
What impressed and amused Herring in hindsight was that there was, â€œno self awareness. That literally in thirty seconds you can go from â€˜I am in love with this personâ€™ to â€˜it was good when I was touching that other girl.â€™ Theyâ€™ll be some paragraph where Iâ€™ll be saying Iâ€™m in love with some girl and the last bit in the entry will be about a different girl - I managed to grope Sarah in the common room, well she pushed up behind me anyway.â€
Thereâ€™s plenty of these self deprecating, revealing moments in the show and itâ€™s one of his best performances for it.
â€œA lot of the things I do in my set that make me think I donâ€™t know whether I really want to do that or is that revealing too much? Are generally the things that turn out to be the best routines. Does this make me weird or is it too personal?
"Actually I think that everyone is the same underneath. Weâ€™ve all gone through embarrassments and stupidity, itâ€™s part of what comedy should be about really. It helps you as a person to hear someone else talk about it.â€
Fist of Fun
Itâ€™s certainly a far cry from just a few years ago when he was starting stand up again. Post the Lee and Herring partnership (with Stewart Lee) - that included the TV projects Fist of Fun and This Morning with Richard Not Judy - he has produced heavily themed one man shows including Talking Cock and The Twelve Tasks of Hercules Terrace.
He was initially scared off doing stand up by bad experiences when he tried it at the very beginning of his career. Naturally he was wary of the prospect of getting back into it again.
â€œI didnâ€™t really like it the first time and I didnâ€™t think I could do it. It was a real thing I had to overcome. Because Iâ€™d had such bad experiences the first time there was still an element of thinking this is a fight and Iâ€™ve got to beat this audience and itâ€™s taken me a long time to realise that actually, mostly, theyâ€™re on your side and itâ€™s not a combative thing.â€
So heâ€™ll be leaving the boxing gloves and gum shield at home on this trip up north and concentrating on enjoying himself instead.
Richard Herring performs The Headmasterâ€™s Son at the Frog and Bucket as a part of the Manchester Comedy Festival on Sunday, October 19. He also appears at Mirth on Monday 20.
Published: Thu, 09 October, 2008