5 July 2008
OVER A career spanning some 20 years, Richard Herring has built a solid reputation as a comedian's comedian, writes Damien Gayle...
Herring has had a hand in some of the best and most popular comedy of the last twenty years: he wrote for Al Murray, Chris Morris and Armando Ianucci, and recently script edited the third series of David Lucas and Matt Walliams' Little Britain. By his own admission, he is something of a kingmaker in the UK comedy scene.
"To make another comedian laugh is a real achievement," says Herring, "And it's nice to be so respected that others ask you to write something for them or to cast an eye over their material; but really the writing and script-editing is just to make a living."
Despite illustrious writing credits, successful radio shows and regular appearances on the stand-up circuit, Herring is still waiting for the mainstream recognition he deserves, beyond a brief stint on TV in the mid '90s (Fist of Fun and This Morning WIth Richard Not Judy).
But rather than being bitter, he is more circumspect about the path his career has taken: "I was lucky, in a way, not to be too successful. It means I've had to graft, to work hard at remaining funny, rather than getting caught in a particular paradigm."
Now this month Southwark residents will have the chance to see for themselves, as Herring is booked to play a special advance preview of his latest show, The Headmaster’s Son, which he is preparing for this summer's Edinburgh Festival.
The Headmaster's Son is a lighthearted reminiscence of Herring's school days in Cheddar, Somerset. "I'm trying to look back at the impact that being the headmaster's son had on my life," Herring says, "but it's more generally about whether you can blame your parents for how you turn out, or whether you have to take responsibility for that yourself."
With a career lasting over two decades, and with no end in sight, Herring has had ample opportunity to develop his style. "When we [Herring and erstwhile partner Stewart Lee] were young we had so many ideas it was bedazzling," he says, "but as you get older you get more perspective and your standards get higher."
Not one to let himself stagnate, he writes two blogs, one on his self-administered website and another for news weekly The New Statesman. "It started as a way to beat writers' block," he tells me, "but it's grown and now I've got a readership of about 3000 people a day. As a stand up you've got to be observant, and so blogging is a great way to expand little observations on life and test them out on an audience."
As well as blogging, Herring has this year launched a successful podcast with fellow comedian Richard Collins. The Collings and Herrin Podcast is one of the most successful regular podcasts on iTunes and, with its homespun production values, gives listeners the real raw edge of comedy, free from interference from marketing and production executives. Says Herring: "The potential for new media is amazing since you can cut out all the interference and go direct to your audience."
Richard Herring will be performing his new show, The Headmaster's Son, at the Southwark Playhouse on July 6th. Tickets are $10 and are available by phone on 0844 847 1656, online at www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk, or in person at the Southwark Playhouse ticket office.
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