Interview Published on May 20th, 2013 | by Callum Moorin
We had the pleasure of interviewing one of the living legends of comedy that is Richard Herring! We talked to him about the new visual version of the RHLSTP podcast, future projects and his next Ed Fringe show!
CM: Thanks for joining us today, how has your day been?
RH: Ive only been up for a couple of hours. Im in Cheddar, staying with my folks whilst I am doing some West Country gigs on my tour. Ive had breakfast and written my blog and now i have to do some bloody email interview. Its all go!
CM: Now you are coming to the end of your tour of Talking Cock is it a sense of relief now that show has finished or are you sad to let it go?
RH: Its been a long tour stretching right from February through to early July (not forgetting the eight gigs I did last autumn or the 25 at the Edinburgh Fringe or the 40 or so previews or the 200+ times I did it in 2002/3) so it will be a bit of a relief to get to the end, even though I am still enjoying performing it. But thats slightly tempered by the fact that I will immediately start work on the new stand-up show and that needs to be ready by August. Its always hard to leave behind a honed show and start a new one. And I dont have much idea of what I am going to be saying at the moment. So relieved, but extremely tense.
CM: What has been your best memory or the Talking Cock tour?
RH: Its been quite uneventful on the whole. But the funniest thing that has happened was last weekend in Bristol when a slightly drunk lady pushed herself against me whilst I was signing programmes at the end and offered me a blowie. I politely declined, but she then indicated her husband who was staring at me with somewhat wild-eyes and informed me that he really wanted to watch that happening. Even had I wanted to receive fellatio from this forward stranger (and I didnt) I dont think I would have been comfortable with this man being in the room and watching. I will find it hard to wipe his expectant face out of my mind. I dont know if its the best memory, but its the most pervasive.
Its been an odd tour because Ive been playing to 400-500 people in some towns, but struggling to get 100 in others. I think this is more an indication of the financial straits the country is in rather than my popularity, but I sense that people are less likely to take a risk on someone that they havent seen on the telly. So theyd rather pay £45 for a stadium tour with a TV star than £15 for someone like me.
The big gigs have been amazing, but the small ones also enjoyable. The atmosphere at one of the smallest in a pub in Bridgend was very special. I feel privileged to be in the position where I get to play all kinds and sizes of venues. Its one of the unexpected bonuses of my odd level of success/lack of success. But Ive built up my audience by doing shows that people have enjoyed and thats quite satisfying.
CM: It was announced earlier last week that a new video version of RHLSTP will be coming, what do you think it will bring that the audio version hasnt?
RH: You will be able to see it as well. That will add a whole new sense to the experience. But seriously I think you do miss out on a lot of the subtleties when youre only listening, Its really just an experiment to see what is possible. Will people pay for something like this when theyre used to getting stuff for free? And where can we take that if comedy fans will fund us a little? If enough people want to pay for this so we cover (or nearly cover) our costs then i am happy to provide the service. If enough want to do it so that we make some money (which I think is unlikely) then we will plough that cash into more adventurous projects. I want to do a monthly stand-up show on film which is as close to TV quality as possible, but without restrictions of taste etc. This will take a lot of time to write, learn, rehearse, film and edit. If people are prepared to pay for it we can do it. If not then we cant. I am happy to risk some money to find out. And from there who knows? Were not backed by sponsors or broadcasters, so this is an independent operation and I think enough people out there are prepared to pay a small amount in return for good comedy. I hope I am right. Ive done free podcasts for five years and so I dont think its too much to ask people to occasionally donate £3.50 or whatever for a paid one. And if I can earn money this way then I am freed up to devote even more time to these independent projects, both free and funded. If you dont want to pay then the audio will still be free. Were not interested in shutting out fans or selling out. If no one wants to buy the video then we just wont do it anymore. But well keep on doing the audio ones for free.
CM: : Where can we expect to see the money to go from the fee to watch the podcast?
RH: It will almost certainly just go towards paying for the expenses of doing this. If we do make money we want to split it fairly so were dividing it between me, gofasterstripe, the guest and the producer and crew. If we made a million pounds it would be cool to think that the camera guys would get a share of that. My share of any profit would free me up to spend time doing independent projects and gofasterstripe plough their profits back into making more DVDs and stuff from obscure comedians. Itd be great to get enough money to self-fund sit-coms and stand up shows etc. This is my plan for any money I make, but in all likelihood I will do these things with money that I have made elsewhere.
CM: Who has been your favourite person to interview on the podcast and why?
RH: There have been some great ones. But I thought David Mitchell was the perfect guest because he was interesting and funny, but mainly because he answered my questions in the right spirit, quite seriously, as if talking to a fairly intelligent five year old child.
CM: How does it feel and differ from presenting the podcast in front of a crowd and then doing your own show?
RH: They are totally different things. My live shows are structured and (eventually) scripted (with a little wiggle room for improvisation) and hopefully slick. The podcasts are entirely made up on the spot and at their best even most of the questions are unplanned. I see these as different jobs, almost from two different people. Hopefully once a stand up show is sorted out the parameters dont change too much and I know what I am getting. The podcasts can vary wildly depending on my mood, the guest, the audience. I love doing both things, but theyre very different skills. I am slightly unusual amongst stand-ups in that I enjoy sharing the stage with other people to. Its grew having the autonomy of solo performance, but I love creating comedy with another person. I am not competitive as some people would be (or if I am its part of the joke) I want to make them and me look as good and funny as possible. And I love it when they make me laugh. Its a great thrill to improvise with the countrys best comedians
CM: Your new show at Edinburgh this year is Were All Going To Die!, what can we expect from it?
RH: I am not entirely sure yet. I like to take a taboo subject and discuss why we arent supposed to laugh about it (even though we nearly all do). I want to look at death from the position of someone who is not (hopefully) imminently dying. Confront my own fears and try to address the massive egotistical issues we all have about our own fairly insignificant lives and deaths. But by laughing at what we fear we take a lot of the sting out of it. So it will hopefully be a show that is both funny and philosophical, both respectful to the dead and disrespectful to death. Just like the penis it is a subject we cover up with euphemism and silence. But its universal and its going to happen at some point, so why be so afraid and weird about it?
RH: All of your shows seem to have a clear theme for each one, from the toothbrush moustache to death do you come up with these themes at the beginning of writing a new show or does it just naturally come into the shape of one theme?
CM: I come up with the theme first, occasionally because I have been thinking about that subject a lot (as I did with the love show and the 40 one). I find it useful to have a subject to think about and study and usually the jokes and stories follow from that. Sometimes as with the love show the subject is suggested by something from the previous show. Its good to concentrate on something that interests or intrigues or baffles me. I have always been a bit obsessed with death so am surprised that I havent written about this before (though my play Excavating Rita did have death as a major theme)
CM: Have you got any other projects in the pipeline at the moment with your busy schedule?
RH: I am hoping to do this monthly filmed stand up show from the autumn onwards which is provisionally called Richard Herrings Meaning of Life in which I take a different big subject every month and try to get to the bottom of it. I have written a sit-com pilot called Ra-Ra Rasputin and am waiting to find out if it has a future. I am also writing a comedy drama about a south-west tourist attraction provisionally entitled Wild South West. There are plenty more ideas bubbling under. So its just a question of if I get time to do them all (before I die!)
CM: Thanks for your time and all the best with the future!
RH: Thanks its been fun.
Keep up to date with Richard on his Twitter account @Herring1967. All his future dates for his live shows can be found here and for the RHLSTP here.