Richard Herring: 'How I made John McCririck angry'
By ANDREW WILLIAMS - Monday, November 9, 2009
Richard Herring, 42, found fame with comedy partner Stewart Lee. He appears at the London's Leicester Square Theatre every Monday until December 14 and at Friends of the Earth's Livestock gig at Hammersmith Apollo on Thursday. www.foe.co.uk/livestock
Youâ€™re doing a series of gigs and putting them straight on the internet, whyâ€™s that?
I write the show on Sunday, perform it on Monday and itâ€™s a podcast on Tuesday. It means I can say whatever I want without any censorship. Itâ€™s all untested, which is part of the point. It gets things out there really fast. Radio shows can take two years to get on air and there are so many restrictions about content now. Most people donâ€™t need nannying in that way.
Are things highly regulated now?
Itâ€™s got worse since the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand thing but even on my last show there were battles. I wasnâ€™t allowed to use Schopenhauerâ€™s quote about history being a whore with syphilis as it was deemed offensive. Iâ€™m enjoying being able to do what I want. Execs rather than creative people commission TV and radio comedy. Thereâ€™s a lot of stuff which isnâ€™t very good. Sketch shows are very samey and sitcoms are fairly crappy.
Is it easier to offend people this way?
I can be more contentious. I want to make people laugh, not offend them. The show Hitlerâ€™s Moustache is only offensive to racist people.
Did some people intentionally take that the wrong way?
There was someone from a broadsheet who tried to make a point about something and took a lot of what I said out of context. I examine what racists say in the show to make them look ridiculous, I donâ€™t think those things myself. The picture of me with the Hitler moustache is quite in-your-face but thatâ€™s what the show was about, I wanted to reclaim it for comedy. Hopefully the audience are capable of understanding what Iâ€™m doing. People are keen to jump down peopleâ€™s throats and call them offensive. I see it as a way to make people laugh and spread ideas.
What reaction did you get to the moustache?
People would just snigger. I thought they would shout at me but they just think Iâ€™m a d***. People seem a bit confused â€“ am I being a Nazi just because Iâ€™ve got the moustache? I had my iPhone stolen out of my hand and had to deal with the police while I had the moustache. The point of the show is to remind people to go out and exercise their democratic rights. The BNP got in because not enough people voted, so it has a serious point which makes it more bearable.
Youâ€™ve said some comedians patronise the audience, what did you mean?
Itâ€™s easy to go on stage and say: â€˜Isnâ€™t George Bush stupid?â€™ and everyone cheers. But he canâ€™t be that stupid, he became the president of the United States. Itâ€™s very easy just to do crowdpleasing stuff, from liberal stuff to Jim Davidson.
Why do comedians seem to hate Michael McIntyre?
Heâ€™s had a rapid rise to fame so thereâ€™s bound to be some jealously. I prefer him to Peter Kay. Neither are my humour but I can see why people like him. Ten years ago, Iâ€™d have been more cross about the unfairness of it all. I love my job but Iâ€™m able to take risks too. I probably have a respect in the industry that Michael doesnâ€™t have. Iâ€™d rather do work that Iâ€™m proud of.
Who is the rudest celebrity youâ€™ve met?
I interviewed John McCririck on a poker show and he was quite rude, but heâ€™s like a little boy who wants people to hate him to cover up the fact he wants people to love him. I told him that and he got very angry. I feel a bit sorry for him, he tries so hard to be rude.
Whatâ€™s the worst job youâ€™ve had?
I wrote the west London phone directory for about a month which was very boring but I got to change Stewart Leeâ€™s name to Stewart Wee.