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Thursday 25th November 2010

Here we go then. The start of year 9. Happy Birthday Warming Up.
But of course, this is not the longest running daily blog ever. Bruce Kimmel has been writing a blog ever day since November 12th 2001 trumping me by over a year. So even when it comes to being an obsessive compulsive I come in second. I know my place. Though the race is not over yet. Now I know there is a competition on I will be spurred on to continue and if Kimmel misses a day due to illness or some other tragedy I will be waiting.
I am not so obsessed that I am going to track him down and try to incapacitate or kill him (though that would make a good screen play or be quite an exciting blog). Not yet.
I had been hoping to give it a couple more years and then knock it on the head on its tenth birthday, but now there is incentive to keep going forever. Once again my only hope for glory is that I outlive everyone else.
I had got up this morning thinking I must do my best to get out into the world and experience something exciting to make a worthy 8th birthday blog, but I hadn't slept too well and was sluggish and sat on my sofa watching "Him and Her" on DVD. Although I have nearly had enough of the no-joke, real life sit-com and wasn't too sure about this show based on the first couple of episodes, I did start getting into it mid-way through the series. The peripheral characters turn it into something special - Joe Wilkinson is fantastic and funny as the pervy, lonely neighbour and the sister's boyfriend character, a balloon of aggression with a girlfriend who is like one of those cardboard pumps, continually pushing him closer to the point of explosion is good too. It's bleak in places and maybe concentrates a bit too much on the fact that we all do unpleasant things in the privacy of our bathrooms and maybe, in the end, everyone is just a bit too horrible and selfish and useless (which seems to be a symptomatic problem with this kind of British sit-com). This show has a bit more heart than some of the bleaker sit-coms which too often revolve around characters so horrible and insensitive and selfish that they actually lose any sense of the reality that they crave. The adoption and prostitute episodes are particularly strong and I would say it's definitely worth a look if you haven't seen it yet. But I can understand why a show like Miranda has been leapt upon by the public, because at least there are jokes and prat-falls and it's silly and funny. But hopefully there is some middle ground out there too.
Then in the afternoon when I had psyched myself up to go to the gym, instead I watched the last three episodes of the 7th season of Curb Your Enthusiasm on my iPad in Cafe Nero. And didn't go to the gym. I suspect Larry David may be the reason that so many British sitcoms are full of selfish misanthropes, but this show is subtler and cleverer than that and also has some broad comedy and set pieces in it. It's had its ups and downs and occasionally I feel that the world is too skewed against David and people get angry for him for no good reason, but even though he is self-centred and stubborn, he is still a very likeable character. And many of his problems are not of his own making. It's very skillfully done and occasionally as broad and silly as Miranda.
It was interesting to watch all this stuff and perhaps I am owed some downtime but there maybe comes a point where you have to stop watching and start writing and it may be time for me to get on with some stuff of my own. A few years ago I looked at successful, rich comedians like the Little Britain boys and envied them, thinking that with that much money and success they could just spend their times writing things that they thought were good and probably get them made. But I realised today that I am in a similar, though somewhat less comfortable position. I am doing well enough at the moment to spend a month of my time writing something I love for the sake of it. And yet I still waste masses of time. It's true that I have devoted a lot of my time to podcasting and blogging and doing stuff that doesn't make me any money, but maybe I need to widen my horizons a little. I have til the end of January to put some stuff together (and to actually go to the gym) and maybe it's time to shit or get off the pot.
I started Warming Up in the hope that it would slap me out of the inertia I was in and get me writing and working on scripts. It has sort of worked and not worked in equal measure. Or worked in a different way than I intended. It's often the only thing I do in a day, but that is better than doing nothing and of course it's proved invaluable in creating stand up routines (I wasn't even doing stand up when I started) and in coming up with stuff for shows and books (How Not To Grow Up would not have been the book it is without this blog to delve into). It's certainly the case that my work is going a lot better for me than it was back in 2002. Perhaps I just need to accept that the time wasting and the diverted focus is part of how I work.
Today, thinking about the eight years and assessing where I had got to and where I was going I thought it might be a good idea to use the two years I have until that 10th anniversary as a deadline. And give myself even more focus. My lost entry from the other week ago with the COBNOB was a jokey attempt to try and emulate Tracy Jordan from 30 Rock's EGOT necklace (he wants to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony in a year) by attempting to win a Chortle Award, an Oscar, a BAFTA, a Nobel prize, an Olivier and a Booker by 2020 (Stewart Lee is already a third of the way to a COBNOB). I enjoyed the fact that that mixed the attainable (Chortle - well maybe) with the unattainable (a Nobel prize? I would really need to spend a lot more time on my Physics studies - it's really just in there so I can have "NOB" in the acronym), but it was really about ambition and focus. My grandad used to say "If you shoot for the stars, you might just hit the trees" and there's a lot to be said for that. I think my wilderness period largely came about due to my own attitude, my own sense of entitlement and ultimately my own reluctance to put in the work (I had offers of work and I mainly screwed them up). It's OK to fail if you have tried, but it's a shame to not try for fear of failure.
So anyway, as well as my attempt to get the COBNOB (and if anyone wants to make me a necklace I will wear it) by the end of the decade (and I am really hoping that I win the Oscar before the Chortle award - and it is not impossible, stinky Peter Baynham has been nominated) I will set myself a slightly more realistic goal of getting my own sit-com or comedy drama into production by Warming Up's 10th birthday.
Less watching. More doing.
Ironically I also want to try and take Warming Up back to basics and make it less about the work and gigs I am doing and more about the funny or ridiculous stuff I have observed. It's been hard to do that so much as I have been mainly working recently (and again that is another major difference between now and 2002 when I was spending most of my time mooching). I won't completely stop writing about my job, as I know some of you are interested in that and I have also been touched to get a few emails recently from other comedians and writers who have been inspired by my struggles and thoughts on the craft, but I like the fact that when I started this up I was trying to give a slice of everyday life and improve my observational skills as well as my prose.
I think that that 2002 Richard Herring would be delighted with where the 2010 Richard Herring has found himself, if maybe a little bewildered by how long it has taken to get to this level and terrified by how quickly the years have passed - back then I claimed that if someone guaranteed I would live to 45, but would then die I would sign that contract - it felt a long way away.
I thank all those of you who have come along on this ride so far, whether from the beginning or more recently, and you have to admit it's been a lot more fun because of the failures and frustrations.
Let's aim our arrows at Alpha Centuri and see what we can hit. With a bit of luck Bruce Kimmel will be caught in the cross-fire and so ten years of continuous blogging will be enough.
Let's all set ourselves a goal for the 25th November 2012. Email me yours (herring1967@googlemail.com) and I will put it in tomorrow's blog and then you can update me in two years and let me know if you've done it. Doesn't matter if you fail. Try again, fail again, fail better.

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Buy the Emergency Questions book here And help fund the filming of series 11 and 12 of RHLSTP.
My new stand up show, Oh Frig I'm 50 is at the Edinburgh Fringe this August and I am also doing three RHEFPs while I am there All details of shows and previews.
Buy tickets to Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast from the LST website
You can download the audio for free from the British Comedy Guide or iTunes or watch the video on YouTube