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This much I know: Richard Herring
The comedian, 44, on love, personal deficiencies and why Barry Cryer is still the best
* Euan Ferguson
* The Observer, Sunday 14 August 2011
"You can joke about anything. It depends on your angle": Richard Herring.
You can joke about anything. It just depends on your angle and the way you go about it. There was that row with Frankie Boyle talking about disability – I like him as a comedian, but there's got to be a reason for doing it. I think the way he did it was just awful. I prefer to be punching upwards rather than downwards.
When you're a young comedian, there's a tendency to think you're brilliant. At first Stewart Lee and I were like: "We're amazing!" And then the struggle begins. I'm glad I wasn't snatched up too quickly – there are some big cons to big fame.
If something's true you should be able discuss it or ask whether it's true. It helps me as a comedian. But it doesn't necessarily help my personal life.
People tend to be surprised when they realise I'm only 5ft 6in. Now I tell them on my website. I think you have to point out your own deficiencies if you're emphasising everyone else's for a living.
Love is earned. I sort of argue in my [Edinburgh] show that the love of a parent for a child is not that impressive, because that's going to happen automatically. In the end you earn love; you have to deserve love.
I'm not interested in telling people what to think. I'm interested in making people think. I make people think about stuff, spread information and ideas. Both my show Christ on a Bike and this one, What Is Love Anyway?, came from questions I asked when I was eight, about religion or love.
There's a selfishness in one kind of love, relationship love, because you're getting something in return. If you really wanted your partner to be as happy as possible, if you really loved them, I think most of us would say: "You should go out with someone better than me because I'm really not that great."
We have to act against our nature sometimes, to keep us on the straight and narrow, but it is ultimately ridiculous. Comedy lets us step outside of that and remember: we're not "meant" to be married. Or have a government. Or a boss.
Somebody I admire is Barry Cryer, who's still so interested in comedy. I hope I'm the same – I don't feel threatened by new people coming up. As someone who has never been married and never had kids, I would be an oldish dad, even if we got on with it straightaway, but I do feel young in heart, don't feel that divorced from culture. It's on the agenda. But it'd have to happen fairly soon.
We get cross with people who don't live up to our romantic expectations of what love is. Romance, monogamy, fidelity: they're all constructs we've put on to society. When someone like Ryan Giggs screws up we seem to be angry with him, but it's really because he's destroyed our group notions of what love and marriage should be all about. The tabloids' anger is actually anger about nature.
Edinburgh hasn't changed, but I have. My first Fringe, 20 years ago, I shared with 30 others. This year I'll be taking a nice flat with my girlfriend. Last year up there I didn't even drink. The older I get the more I think I owe it to people who are paying quite decent money. Now I relish concentrating on every single show.
What is Love Anyway? is on until 28 August at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (richardherring.com)
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