Independent - My Secret Life

My Secret Life: Richard Herring, comedian, 43

Interview by Holly Williams

Saturday, 2 April 2011

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Herring says: 'I'd like to be a little bit taller - it would make me a little thinner. If I could just squash myself upwards'

Holly Williams

Herring says: 'I'd like to be a little bit taller - it would make me a little thinner. If I could just squash myself upwards'

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My parents were... My dad was my headmaster and my mother also taught me at school. I did a whole show about whether it psychologically scarred me, but when I look back, I think all the bad things about me were already in existence. I was in a fortunate position where I had a very solid family – my parents have been together since they were 13. It's almost hard to live up to that!

When I was a child I wanted to... I went to the career adviser when I was 16, and tried to explain that I wanted to be a comedian or a writer. That was not on the list.

If I could change one thing about myself... I'd like to be a little bit taller, and that would probably make me a little bit thinner. If I could just squash myself upwards, that would sort it out.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at... I've run a marathon – I think that's the most surprising thing about me.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... I have a lack of practical skills. I can't mend anything or do anything manly; I don't understand how anything works.

At night I dream of... doing my maths A-level again, and I can't remember any of it. What I see when I look in the mirror... Grey hair and my wrinkles. But I look better than I did when I was younger, although I am a bit crumpled.

My favourite item of clothing... A blue and black striped jumper, like a blue Dennis the Menace. It was from Paul Smith and it was really expensive, but it's just ruined now.

It's not fashionable but I like... playing Yahtzee on my iPhone all the time. And I've played in minor Scrabble tournaments.

I drive... a Volkswagen gold automatic car, quite badly. I bumped it the other day.

My favourite work of art... The Angel of the North. It's a really good populist bit of art that's also quite inspiring. I like the grandeur of it, and that it's all rusty.

My favourite building... is a little amphitheatre in Pompei. Last time I was there I sat on my own and sort of communed with the spirit of people who did my trade 2,000 years ago.

My secret crush is... Amy Pond from Doctor Who. But not Karen Gillan. If she is willing to go out with me, but all the time act as Amy Pond, then that's an open invitation and I'll dump my girlfriend – she'd understand.

A book that changed me... The New Testament. Even as an eight-year-old, I discovered all these inconsistencies. So I think, weirdly, it changed me from being religious to being non-religious!

My greatest regret... The BBC cancelling the TV series I did with Stewart Lee, because one person didn't like it.

My real-life villains... People at the Channel 4 comedy department who think it's edgy to mock people with mental and physical disabilities without any wit. They are not being edgy, they're being pricks. You've got to make a point, not just mock people who don't have any power in society.

The person who really makes me laugh... Tim Minchin and Daniel Kitson are the two people that when I see them, I think I could never be that funny or that clever.

The last time I cried... Embarrassingly, it was watching Love, Actually when I was a bit depressed, about four years ago. I just started weeping uncontrollably and thought 'I can't carry on with my life'.

My life in six words... I will quote Samuel Beckett: 'Try again. Fail again. Fail better'.

A life in brief

Richard Herring was born in Yorkshire in 1967. He studied history at Oxford, where he wrote and performed for the Oxford Revue. He has collaborated with Stewart Lee for radio and TV, writing for Armando Iannucci's On the Hour and heading up shows such as Fist of Fun and Lee and Herring. After his successful stand-up shows Talking Cock, The Headmaster's Son and Hitler Moustache, he is now touring the UK with Christ on a Bike: The Second Coming. He lives in west London with his girlfriend