Frost Magazine

Radio: As It Occurs To Me
Blake Connolly
Published: May 19, 2010Posted in: Culture, Featured, Humour, Radio

Richard Herring returned to London’s Leicester Square theatre on Monday night to record the first in a new series of his stand-up and sketch show, As It Occurs To Me. Aided by comic actors Emma Kennedy and Dan Tetsell, with music from Christian Ryley, the show is, put simply, about whatever has occurred to Herring over the past week, whether they are things that have happened to him or his thoughts on things that have happened in the news. It shares a similar feel to his previous radio work, such as Fist of Fun and That Was Then, This Is Now, but because it is an Internet podcast, he can push the boundaries of comedy and decency as far as he’d like without having to worry about editorial interference or broadcasting guidelines.

For eight weeks, the show is recorded in front of a live theatre audience, who pay £10 each, which covers the costs of the production before the recording is released online, for free. It might seem a little odd to pay to see something which is then made available free of charge, but audience members get pretty good value for money. There’s a great atmosphere at the recordings which has seemed to be improving week by week, with final episode of the first series having a real party feel. But also, something new for this second series is that Herring opens with an exclusive 45 minute stand-up set, not available in the podcast, where he interacts with the audience, tells stories from some of his previous stand-up shows and mentions things that didn’t make it into the main show. This week, the audience was told of his experiences of being heckled by an octogenarian at the British Library and the time he wrote his “first book”, when he had a job inputting names and numbers into the BT phone book database, and changed his flatmate’s name in the listings to “Stewart Wee”.

The style of humour is very similar to the best of Lee and Herring’s work. On the surface, much of it is puerile, adolescent and often offensive, but always knowingly so. But it’s the anecdotal comedy that works best, like the story of meeting Scream actress Neve Campbell to discover that she “didn’t know how to pronounce her own name” or the discovery of an old notebook full of stories written by the a nine year old Richard Herring. Also, like Lee and Herring’s work, a lot of the humour comes from repetition, something which is regularly signposted. Favourites from the first series included the show’s only sound effect, a roulette wheel, which made it’s way into every episode, and “Tiny Andrew Collins”, Tetsell’s version of the broadcaster Herring shares his other podcast with, who isn’t a million miles away from Kevin Eldon’s Rod Hull character from Fist of Fun. The new series starts with Herring promising to drop all of the old catchphrases and running gags, but you can be sure that they’ll make a reappearance.

Herring writes the show within 48 hours of the performance. While it’s quite a feat to produce eight fully-formed comedy shows over such a short space of time, it’s just one sign of his prolificacy. As well as AIOTM and the Collings and Herrin podcast, he has been writing a daily blog for the last eight years, recently published a new book, been filling in for Adam and Joe’s BBC 6music show, just finished touring his excellent Hitler Moustache show, is about to bring a new version of his Christ on a Bike stand-up show to Edinburgh and is, occasionally, allowed on the telly.

The first episode of the new series is available now and is worth a listen if you’re not averse to very strong language. It includes the story of the cast’s night out at the Sony Radio Academy Awards, for which the podcast was nominated, which apparently turned out to be a moneymaking ruse by “Ian Sony”, plus a moving and not at all depraved tale of love between one man and one talking hotel lift. If you enjoy it, then it’s worth coming down to the Leicester Square Theatre and joining in the fun.

As it Occurs to Me is available on iTunes or to download from The British Comedy Guide