Big Issue - My Peccadillo

Richard Herring: Turning snooker into a Samuel Beckett drama

Jun 9, 2015

In this week's My Peccadillo, comedian Richard Herring on why his snooker obsession should win the Turner prize

When I was 12, during snooker’s 1980s heyday, I was obsessed with getting a six by three foot snooker table. I wore my parents down and got one for Christmas. I would play against myself and take on the persona of Hurricane Higgins or Steve Davis. My best break was about 42.

I played myself, like the old days, and tweeted match commentary, Me 1 vs Me 2I was touring a few years ago and there was a table backstage. I played myself, like the old days, and tweeted match commentary, Me 1 vs Me 2. It was silly but resonated with people. So I started audio recording games and commentating, to release as a podcast. People who got it really liked it, those that didn’t were bored and angry, which for me is the perfect tipping point of comedy.

In this ad-libbed, Beckettian drama, distinct characters emerged: Me 1 is the married, sensible version of myself and Me 2 is more like Jimmy White, an angrier single man. It was interesting to explore things through the medium of playing myself badly at snooker – my wife genuinely hates it. It started with 30,000 listeners but by Frame 30 I’d whittled it down by 90 per cent.

Part of the comedy is that a) I am going through this and b) you are listening. I honestly think it is one of the best things I’ve done. If I was an artist, this would win the Turner Prize – but as I’m a comedian, people just worry for my mental health.