Friday 6th January 2012
Very sad to hear of the death of Bob Holness. To a generation of nerdy kids he was a hero - perhaps an ironic one to begin with, but then an actual one. He allowed us to be geeks and he allowed us to be children still, who didn't worry about being cool. This clip shows that and is a fine tribute to the man. We should all take a piss whilst taking ecstasy in his honour.
The 2012 international tour has begun. And the international part is already completed. I was in Dublin today, I think for only the second time. I knew I was going to like it as soon as I got to the airport. My cab driver met me and he was friendly and chatty in a totally not annoying way. When we got to the lift to the car park, the doors were about to close and a man was approaching. In London everyone would have pretended not to see him, but not only did the man nearest the lift door make to hold the doors open, the man approaching said, "Don't worry, there's a few of us." But not to be outdone in politeness the man by the door still stopped the door closing and said, "There's plenty of room". Such courtesy would result in a knife in the face in any lift in London, but here it just made one woman in the lift slightly sigh. It was a bit annoyingly polite to be honest, but I liked it. The man outside still didn't get in. But the whole incident made me sure I was going to like it here.
My cab driver gave me a potted history of Dublin as we approached the hotel. I was already reminded of my favourite places to be, the South West and Wales, where people are different and odd and cool in a good way. Live the difference.
As always I was a bit nervous about getting the show right after a few weeks lay off. As always I didn't really bother to think very much about it, hoping the words would just come out in the right order. And they more or less did. I felt a bit rusty and detached in the first half, but the crowd packed into a small room at the back of a pub were laughing along. I loosened up and started to enjoy myself, remembering how much fun it is to be doing a tour show, with no pressure to finish by a certain time, playing with the script, making myself laugh. The closing story about my grandma worked better than it ever has before, the crowd really engaging with the comedy and the tragedy. It was fucking lovely and exhilarating. These are my kind of people. This is my kind of town. I love my job.
I told them that I had a few DVDs to sell, but only what I could fit in my hand luggage on the plane, which I would be selling out a plastic bag in return for money that I couldn't even use which might be worthless at any second. They responded by pretty much cleaning me out of merch (sorry Belfast there isn't much left for you - not trying to create any problems between you and Dublin, but maybe it's fair enough that they have stolen something that is rightfully yours - I'll take your side when I am in your town). I had a pint of Guinness as I signed tickets and sold DVDs. Just one pint couldn't hurt. I am trying to lose weight and get fit in 2012, but by being sensible, rather than giving everything up completely.
One of the staff at the venue invited me up the road to see a folk band. I nearly just went back to my hotel as it was quite late now and I am not always that comfortable amongst strangers. But it seemed too tragic to go back to my lonely room (you could tell the standard of the place, because they gave you your TV remote control with your key - always the sign of a class establishment) and I was interested in experiencing the craic, that I had heard so much about. And I am very glad I went along. Though predictably the people I ended up drinking with were keen to break my resolve to stop after my second pint.
Usually after a gig I end up going back to my hotel room and unwinding as best I can. And if I want to stay healthy and do good shows nowadays it pays to do that. When we were young we could just about get away with drinking through the night and more or less pull it together in time for the next show, but we had a tour manager and functioning livers. Now I am old I have to take care of myself and as I travel alone in any case in most places there isn't really the opportunity to go out for a night of fun. It's difficult and a bit odd to socialise with members of the audience and for most theatre staff your gig is just a day at work and they're keen to go home. But tonight was one of those rare occasions when the circumstances were right and I found myself propelled into the middle of a group of fun and funny people, who'd seen the show and liked it, but were keen to talk about other stuff. I relaxed immediately and hardly felt socially awkward at all, which is not like me. And whilst it's good to be focused and professional, it's also important to let your hair down every now and again and I haven't really done that too often of late. I had a brilliant time. I met a woman who works at the largest wool shop in Ireland. That's right, look impressed. I told her about the Christmas jumper I had received and showed her the photo of me, my dad and my nephew wearing them, whilst consciously enjoying the fact that this was exactly like someone finding out I was a comedian and telling me my favourite joke. "Oh you work with wool, I've got a jumper you might be interested in."
"I look at wool all day long, what makes you think I'd want to think about wool when I am relaxing."
"Yeah, but look at it though."
It was doubly inappropriate as I am sure that these Primark jumpers have little to no wool in them. Just like men in pubs who tell me racist jokes that they think I might like to use in my act, I was showing this woman a picture of a jumper that she would never think of having anything to do with. Luckily she enjoyed my half-joking, half-serious attempt to engage with her in this manner.
A third pint of Guinness magically appeared and a man who sold whiksy started passing round a little hip flask for us to drink from. He told me a funny story about him and his girlfriend eating hash cakes in Amsterdam. The band played and sang rather beautifully and as I have discovered before the mixture of Guinness and folk music makes me emote. Perhaps it speaks to the Irish Hannan blood that flows through my veins and is responsible for my short, stocky frame. Or perhaps I am just an Englishman craving some Celtic, mystical heritage to make up for my middle-class Actimel based life. Either way, who gives a fuck. This was a great night. I was doing some craic.
A fourth pint of Guinness then appeared and one of my new friends brought me a very large glass of whisky. The singer started singing a beautiful and moving folk song and everyone in the pub shushed each other and we all listened. It was heart-breaking and beautiful. And the sensible part of my brain, somehow keeping control despite the fog of alcohol knew that it would be reckless to drink more than a couple of sips of my two drinks and also recognised that this was the high point of the night and it was time to head back to my room.
I'd reined it all in just in time, but still managed to drink like I was 35 years old. Tomorrow I may feel like a 55 year old, but I think it was worth it.
Thank you Dublin. Hopefully I won't be away for quite so long next time.
The ebook experiment progresses in a satisfactory manner. In the first day of trading I sold about 150 Bye Bye Balhams (8 on American amazon, none on continental Amazon), and was launched into the coveted top 400 of the kindle chart. Obviously this spike of interest will be temporary and will most likely account for the majority of sales. But you never know. The jury is still out on whether the time taken to write and collate further volumes will be worth it, but the nice thing about this model of publishing is that deadlines are my own and upload is easy. I can tinker away when I have the time and put something out ever few months. Because it's less about money for me and more about time. Or only about money in the sense that the more time I spend doing stuff for free (or the price of a cup of coffee) the less time I have to do the work that pays/spend time with my girlfriend. But if I can get the balance right (and it seems to be working OK at the moment) and if about 2000 of you come along on the ebook ride, then I reckon we could be on to something interesting and viable. At last count around 3000 of you read this blog for free. If you all bought two out of every three ebooks I put out then we've got a going concern. It'd be nice to think this blog might start paying for itself after nine years. Although I have to say there's a big part of me that likes the fact that it doesn't. Not everything is about making money. What am I talking about? That kitchen isn't going to build itself. Buy my book! If you haven't had a look at it yet here's Bye Bye Balham . You can check out a fair chunk for free if you want to see the kind of extra content you'll be getting. Or why not buy it and become part of a Borg collective that will act as a sort of patron. Together you will be a kind of Medici family, who fund puerile jokes instead of great works of art. And paying for a kitchen rather than the block of marble from which an uncircumsized David will emerge.
All the dates for the Talking Cock tour can be found here
Buy the Talking Cock book here
Tickets are now on sale for both my Edinburgh Fringe shows. "We're All Going To Die!" is on at the Pleasance Beyond at 8pm Book here
Richard Herring's Edinburgh Fringe Podcast is at Stand 1 daily at 14.10. Book here
You can get video downloads of Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast from Go Faster Stripe
A video explaining the idea can be seen here
You can buy tickets to the shows from the Leicester Square Theatre website
You can still download the audio for free from the British Comedy Guide or iTunes
You can subscribe to this blog on Kindle. Now only ï¿½0.99 a month here. Or just carry on reading it on here for free.
Also on your kindle (or any smart phone or tablet with the kindle app) catch up on the early years of Warming Up (with extra retrospective additions) with Bye Bye Balham and The Box Lady and Other Pesticles (only ï¿½3.53 each)
[ Email this edition of Warming Up to a friend ]