Preview from Croydon paper
Herring res-erects his stand-up career
Comedian Richard Herring turns his back on TV with a series of stand-up gigs and a stint at the Edinburgh Festival. Alex Kasriel finds out more...
Richard Herring is very into Scrabble. The comedian plays in tournaments and while he describes the people who take part as "the most bizarre group of people" and "deeply strange" he admits he is also genuinely obsessed with the game as it provides good comedy material which might one day inspire a sitcom.
It is not surprising someone who has a cool confidence should be into the letters game. Like all good Scrabble players, Herring pays a lot of attention to detail in his material which is where his new show about everyday observations, Someone Likes Yoghurt, comes in.
Going back to stand-up was going back to basics for Herring who had overnight success with his partner Stewart Lee in their BBC TV series This Morning with Richard Not Judy, in 1996.
Since then, he was mostly employed to write and edit TV comedy scripts but has been back on the circuit since 2001.
"There was a psychological barrier to coming back to stand-up gigs," he explains. "I had to come back, rather than be in TV shows which were not very well written. It's good for me to perform.
"When I had a one-man show I was doing 50 or 60 gigs a year but with stand-up I'm out most nights. It really sharpens up your performance skills. Also I was getting pigeonholed as a writer. I don't want to just sit at home and write. It's a bit joyless."
But he does continue to edit scripts for TV shows such as Al Murray the Pub Landlord and Little Britain.
Herring writes a web diary online (blog) at richardherring.com which helps him with material. In it he amusingly describes his enjoyment of booze and his attempts to lose weight and get fit (he ran the London Marathon last year).
Herring's gigs have included Talking Cock, man's answer to the Vagina Monologues and written using material from a survey he conducted on the penis.
Another, The Twelve Tasks of Hercules, involved him dating 50 women on 50 consecutive nights.
While he is bitter the BBC did not get behind This Morning with Richard Not Judy by pulling it after the fourth series, the show was well-loved.
Herring says he and Lee were propelled onto TV screens quickly and he would have preferred to do stand-up for four or five years longer; which might explain his belated stand-up stage fright.
Although a rather embarrassing private gig he performed in December 2003 with Elton John, Liz Hurley and Posh Spice in the audience may also be responsible.
"I did my Talking Cock routine," he says. "The gig, as predicted, went belly up.
"After talking about erectile dysfunction I said, "You're still standing aren't you Elton? Better than you ever did? Well that's Viagra for you". It didn't go down especially well. People made little appalled noises.
"Elton started talking in the middle which was the signal to everyone else I had failed. It was probably the nearest I have come to being a jester in the royal court. And Elton John was the Queen."
-Richard Herring with fellow comedians Anna Crily and Katy Wix, Croydon's Warehouse Theatre, Dingwall Road, April 10, £6-£8, 8pm, 020 8680 4060.