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Tuesday 27th May 2008

A sudden little media blitz about me, even though I am not promoting anything at the moment - one way or the other I am making the news. The Daily Express today reported on my successful weight loss - didn't make the front page, which surprised me - though I clearly have a fan there, who thankfully did not judge me too harshly when I said on a podcast that the last article about my charity work had made me "look like a cunt". I was showing off and trying to look cool in front of Andrew Collings, but was grateful for the publicity for the Just Giving Page (you only have til the end of the month if you want to get your name in the programme, so don't delay any longer!) I expect armies of Daily Express readers to turn up at my gigs as a result of this exposure and then be forced to walk out when I start joking about paedophiles or suggest that we should welcome immigrants to this country. But I have a soft spot for the Express as my Grandad used to get it every day and I enjoyed trying to beat him at the anagram game and crossword. So let's not be unnecessarily ungrateful again! At least this time they used a photo that didn't make me look like a beached whale!
As you may know, my paper of choice (that I love and miss when I am out of the country) is the Guardian. So I was pleased to see myself being quoted in its pages today, even though I wasn't credited. In an article about the weakling Hay Festival for swots, Sandi Toksvig told one of my jokes. This is the relevant bit for those of you who, like me, think that people who read the Guardian are worse than paedophiles:

"Dom Joly, comedian asks Sandi Toksvig, broadcaster

Q Sandi, I've always wanted to ask you: how would we solve the Israel/Palestine situation?
A Do you know, the answer that I like best - and I don't know whose answer it is - is that we should get one side to divide the country and decide where the border is going to go, and then the other half get to choose which side they want. Isn't that a brilliant idea? It's so simple. Maybe in his simplicity, Blair found that too simple. Perhaps I could be an undersecretary of something?"

This is a joke that I came up with for the live show version of "Grumpy Old Women" (I have to be honest, I didn't contribute much to this show, as I was merely script editor and Jenny Eclair and Judith Holder did a marvelous job and I mainly just had to say "Yes, that's good"). It was rather pleasing to see it in print, especially as someone had once told me (and this might not be true) that Sandi Toksvig doesn't find me particularly amusing, so nice that she inadvertently quoted me.
I decided to take credit for my work and emailed a letter to the editor saying:

"Sandi Toksvig says she doesn't know who came up with the solution to the Israel/Palestine situation that involves getting one side to draw in the border and the other side to choose which half they want (Just one question, G2, May 27). Well I believe it was me. That was certainly the joke I wrote for the stage version of Grumpy Old Women. You never know, it might get implemented as an actual policy and bring peace to the region. I'd very much like the world to know that I was responsible for the idea! If anyone else claims that they came up with the joke too, maybe one of us could draw a line through the joke and the other one choose which part of it we want to take credit for.
Richard Herring
London"

Charmingly modest, whilst at the same time making my self-promoting point. But I have always dreamed of getting into a Dictionary of Quotations, so if people are going to start throwing my gags around, then the least I can do is put my name to them! But as I imply in the letter I wouldn't be totally surprised if someone else had come up with the same idea - it's one of those jokes that I can imagine two people coming up with independently, though it was thinking of the world from a grumpy old woman point of view that gave me the notion, so I think there's a good chance it's original.
I got a call in the evening saying that the letter would be in the Guardian on the 28th (indeed it was), so my media profile will be kept up for another day.
And if that wasn't enough for you, I also got a very flattering review on the GQ website. James Mullinger, the comic who is scared to be in the same room as me - the wuss - says that people will look back at me as the best comic of my generation, which might be a bit over the top. But I'd rather they'd look at me that way now, rather than looking back after I have either gone or dried up. With this kind of media exposure across three such different journals I guess there is a chance that I might be recognised for the genius I am before I actually snuff it.
Which is against the spirit of being a fan of me. You're meant to think I am really good, but not let anyone know about it, so that I remain a secret. Don't you even know that yet?

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