Richard Herring: I’m putting my comedy online
Friday 28 Feb 2014
For the past six years, I’ve been exploring the comedic possibilities of the internet.
I have put out hundreds of podcasts, pretty much all of them for free (you can still download them from iTunes or the British Comedy Guide). Having struggled over the years to get my ideas accepted by radio and TV commissioners and, even when successful, then failing to get the best jokes past the cat-anus, penile-meatus, rock-sucking censors, I’ve enjoyed the autonomy and freedom of web-based comedy.
If I fancy being esoteric, I can be. On my Me1 Vs Me2 Snooker Podcast, I attempt to antagonise and lose listeners with my audio-only commentary of myself playing snooker against myself in my basement. Most people are baffled, confused, even angry about it. But 5,000 people (and falling) tune in to find out which ‘me’ will win the next frame. I’ll only stop when no one is listening.
My Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (currently being recorded on Monday nights in London) is more popular, with up to 150,000 downloads per show. They’re candid, filthy, sprawling and hilarious chats with some of Britain’s top comedians, including Stephen Fry, Russell Brand and Stephen Merchant.
I proved self-produced content can compete against mainstream radio when this show won a Sony Comedy Award last year.
The only problem is that I am not getting directly paid for my work, though the audiences on my tours have grown significantly since I started podcasting and it’s also led to me getting paid jobs on the BBC and Fubar Radio. But, more importantly, I am creating and making comedy on my own terms. The public decide if it’s a hit or a miss. But no one can take me off air except me. Or possibly Me2.
My latest project is the most ambitious and foolhardy yet. Richard Herring’s Meaning Of Life is a TV-quality, 45-minute stand-up and sketch show, which will be put out for free (though there will be an option to pay for a longer version). Unlike my other internet projects, this one is costing me money to produce but I think it’s worth the expense to test the limits of what is possible without the assistance or interference of broadcasters.
It aims to answer all of life’s big questions, like: How many weeks would you have to attend Roman Catholic Holy Communion before you have eaten an entire Jesus?
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? That’s easy; it was the egg. Something very like a chicken laid an egg and a chicken came out of the egg, so the egg came first.
Unless they mean which came first in a race, in which case it might be the chicken. Unless the race was down a mountain, in which case it could be the egg. Unless they mean which ‘came’ first, in which case it’s the chicken again. Sorry, that was trickier than it looked.The first show, about the creation of the universe, is now online. Have a look. If you like it, tell your friends.It feels like we’re approaching a revolution in entertainment similar to the one that led to the explosion in the movie business a century ago. Somewhere out there is the new Charlie Chaplin ready to take the world by storm. The means of production are now in the hands of the people. We are our own media moguls and, as such, are denting the power and influence of those who traditionally held the reins.
You can watch Richard Herring’s Meaning of Life at: vimeo.com/channels/rhmol or download the longer version from http://www.gofasterstripe.com/rhmol. Find details of other podcasts at http://www.richardherring.com