In the first of what we hope will become a semi regular series we’ve been lucky enough to get stand-up comedian, write, blogger and pioneer podcaster Richard Herring to do the honours of being first.
Albatross Revue: Thanks for taking time out for our interview today, how are things in your world right now?
Richard Herring: Things are pretty good thanks – my tour seems to be selling well, think I am going to be writing another book and have a pilot TV script in at the BBC. Hopefully it will be a good year work wise. Plus there’s some cool stuff going on in my personal life, so feeling this odd alien emotion. Is this what you earthlings call “contentment”
Just who is Richard Herring?
I am a writer and comedian, formerly in a double act with Stewart Lee (in BBC shows like Fist of Fun and This Morning With Richard Not Judy), but now mainly working alone, doing stand up shows, writing books and TV scripts and experimenting in the world of podcasts (including the award winning AIOTM). I have written what I believe to be the second longest running consecutive daily blog in the world (over nine years without a day off). I like running, poker and Scrabble.
You’re no stranger to controversy, do you think it’s part of a comedian’s job to challenge people’s conceptions?
It’s part of it. Making people laugh is a bit part of the job too, but if you can do both then I think that’s better. I want to make people think about why they think the things they do, sometimes change their mind, but mainly just remind them not to take anything for granted. The world is ridiculous and made more so by the constraints we put on ourselves with civilisation. By pointing out my own inadequacies and stupidity I hope I can make people feel better about theirs. But everything needs to be questioned. Comedy is a great way to do this. If the thing is true and real then it will stand up to whatever I can throw at it.
You’re something of an Internet pioneer, tell us about your long running daily blog.
I started it in November 2002, initially as an attempt to overcome writer’s block. I was wasting lots of my days and thought that if I could get something written in the morning it might get me in the mood for my proper work. So I called it Warming Up. But it didn’t really work out that way. It has proved a valuable resource for stand up and books, as well as a way of getting people to visit my website daily and hopefully invest in some of my paid stuff. It’s also an amazing (and sometimes not amazing) catalogue of about a fifth of my life. It set me in the direction of realising that getting paid for stuff is not the most important thing about life and that by giving stuff out for free I would end up getting paid in other ways (some monetary and some not).
And the podcasts.
What I liked about the blog was that I could get my stuff out there without having to be passed through a filter where someone else decided whether it was worthy or needed to be changed. Obviously podcasts opened up another outlet. I have loads of ideas and about four years ago radio and TV weren’t falling over themselves to employ me and I just wanted to get the stuff out there. Initially I started podcasting with Andrew Collins because we missed doing his 6Music show and we thought it would be fun. But people seemed to like it and I realised that I could explore other ideas that were either too rude or left field for more conventional broadcasting. It’s led to AIOTM (a weekly stand up and sketch show, written and recorded in a couple of days) and Me1 vs Me2 Snooker, where I play myself at snooker and commentate on it. It’s a great place to experiment and though they are all free to listen to, it seems to have had the result that my live audience has doubled and touring is now a viable way to make a living.
As we’re mainly a video gaming site tell us about your favourite games.
I think my all time favourite was Civilisation II, Sid Meier’s classic PC game where you created a civilisation and built it up through war and trading to see if you could become the dominant force in the world and ultimately travel to Alpha Centurii. I love this kind of long, slightly mundane role playing game. Kevin Tom’s Football Manager was another early favourite that I wasted days of my teenage life on. I like to escape into something that’s quite repetitive and hard to step away from. I think it helps me get into a place where funny ideas might appear. Though mostly it just turns me into a zombie with danger of getting deep vein thrombosis.
Would you ever consider working in the games industry as a voice over like Danny Wallace and Stephen Merchant have done?
No one has ever asked me. As with everything I do I would consider it if it was a project I admired.
You heard it here first game devs! As one of the busiest comedians on the circuit how do you find time to write?
Comedians have a hell of a lot of time to themselves. I have always both performed and written and until the last seven years was more of a writer than a stand up. So I am used to getting up and at least attempting to get on with things. The blog has certainly helped me create a huge amount of material and get better at writing fast. But I respond well to deadlines. Otherwise I might just sit at home playing video games. Which I do a lot of the time already.
And on that subject anything coming up in the near future?
I think I might be reviving and revising my 2002 show “Talking Cock” and I am waiting to hear about whether I am going to be commissioned to write a book and a TV series. But I will keep doing the stand up and the podcasting and hopefully another series of my Radio 4 show, Objective.
Once again thanks for your time and is there anything you would like to plug?
I’d love people to see my current tour (I think it’s the best yet) What is Love, Anyway? http://www.richardherring.com/wila/tour.php
You can buy my DVDs, including the first series of my 90s TV show Fist of Fun from www.gofasterstripe.com
Check out iTunes or my blog for the free stuff!
Thanks for that, we look forward to seeing and hearing from you again soon.