Zine LJ commuinty is p_avalanche
An interview with Richard Herring.
April.P: Can I just say in advance, thank you for letting me interview you, I must admit it is a bit of an honor. I should also say at this point that a few of these questions were sent to me via interweb from other Lee and Herring fans.. So Yes, shall I start off with a less intimidating question?
Who do you admire out of stand-up comedy currently on the circuit?
Richard.H: Most of the people on the comedy circuit are really great now, yes I think I’ve written about Josie Long on my web-log but there’s lots of many good comics like that whose names I forget due to being old. There’s a lot of new young female comics, which is fantastic. Um… Every time I go out I see someone new, there’s a really good guy called Gary Delaney who writes jokes that I don’t usually like, but he is very funny it‘s just normally I don‘t like his type of jokes. But yes he is traveling around at the moment.
People do a lot of jokes that I don’t really want tto do, this makes me feel more at ease than when I started out in 1992.
A.P: With the gift of hindsight, do you consider “Time gentlemen, please” to be the best thing you have ever written?
R.H: I really am very proud of those scripts given the amount I had to do in the amount of time to do it in, I think there really well constructed scripts. I don’t think it’s “the best thing I have ever written”, all I said on my web-log that it was the best thing I had ever written to that point and I still think it was of that kind of eilk. you always think “it’s the best thing have written” but It’s very hard to judge these kind of things
There hasn’t been all that much since then to be honest .I think the Hercules shows are great , I really do like them but writing for a 23 minute show was very difficult putting many of “that of gag” in and to make sure other things were happening too in each episode.
A.P: Yes, I do think sit-com writing is very different, I think that’s what Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker found out with their recent show “Nathan Barley”.
R.H: yes it’s different thing entirely, I do think to myself as a writer I would like to perform this as I do see myself as both.
A.P: Do you feel that your work as moved on for the better, more grown-up perhaps?
R.H: Well yes, its that sort of inevitable, hopefully. I think it has got better. I think Stew (Stewart Lee) and I have been lucky that we’ve never became massively successful, but we’ve been successful to make a living out of it and so we can carry out what we both want to do. We didn’t have to bow down to public opinions which means hopefully we’re still creating interesting work.
For me I think it was good for me to leave the “lee and herring” character behind. It was a sort of a huge exaggeration of myself.
A.P: This leads onto my next question… Did the stereotype of being childish and simple ever get you down?
R.H: Well… Not really. It did when some people thought you were like them, that’s who you are, that’s all you can do, but I really did love working with Stew then. It is annoying when people assume Stews the clever one and I’m the stupid one, but I don’t think that, that happens so much anymore.
A.P: When watching “Fist of Fun” and the like it is quite obvious that you write together as it’s very structured.
R.H: Yes, we did write well together; a lot of the time we wrote a lot of each others lines. But, no it doesn’t piss me off majorly But it is nice to move on and do other things. I mean I’ve always been writing plays and that sort of thing.
A.P: What was it like working with other comedy greats such as Peter Baynham, Kevin Eldon and Armando Ianucci?
R.H: It was just like working with anyone, there all great especially Kevin and Pete, it was really nice as they are my friends and I made a lot of friends dong this. Me and Armando been talking and we’re thinking of doing some stuff together. But yes it was just like working with your mates, it was really fun.
A.P: You don’t have to answer this question as it might seem a bit personal. I feel un-informed regarding your history with actor/writer Patrick Marber, do you care to elaborate?
R.H: I think we’ve said it all. I mean it was a joke that we do really but me and stew genuinely didn’t get on with him.
A.P: I did hear that he in a way stole the “The day today” character “Peter Rahanrahan”.
R.H: Well‘s not really his fault, The whole “day today” thing happened, and it was all a bit messy , but Patrick was the only person who seemed delighted about it. That it boost him up the ladder so to speak.
It was a joke, and what’s funny is the more it went on the more successful he is and less successful we are.
A.P: Oh I wouldn’t say that.
[R. H chuckles]
R.H: He now works in Hollywood I find it amusing to keep the joke going. I think it reflects more badly on us rather than it did him.
A.P: You’ve done a lot of charity work, like myself you have worked for P.E.T.A. Are you vegetarian, are animal ethics important to you?
R.H: I used to be vegetarian, I was for 15 years . But I think any unnecessary cruelty to animals is awful. When I did the bull run I found out about how many bad things went on. But there was a lot of “extremist vegetarians” around too.
A.P: Yes, when I did my bit for P.E.TA. I received a few abusive comments with people calling me a “vegetarian supremacist” . I tried to explain it’s quite ignorant to assume that anyone who cares about animal treatment is “that extreme”. It’s made me think twice about me working for them again.
R.H: Yes when I did my bull run there were a lot of ridiculously extreme people, but again a lot of them weren’t, I think there is a danger of trying to get those messages across to normal people. When doing the bull run there were a lot of people who were quite exclusive . Which is such a nasty thing when you’re looking to do something which interests you as it seems fun. I mean there’s no reason to be cruel to um…
[R.H and A.P both laugh]
A.P: Do you think British comedy is still alive as shows like “Peep show”, ”Spaced”, “Brass eye” and “15 stories high” are over? If not what shows do you enjoy?
R.H: I like all of those shows, I’ve only seen one episode of “15 stories high” but I enjoyed it. I really like “Peep show”. I think “The Office” was great . There’s a lot of good interesting stuff that’s going on . Alt-comedy doesn’t really exist anymore it’s become more mainstream now. There’s a lot of really talented people creating lots of good stuff, which is a shame as it’s harder to get work.
A.P: Other than poker what other plans do you have in pipeline?
R.H: I’m writing a sit-com, at the moment it’s about my family but I might have to change it. I’ve been commissioned to write a script for the BBC, I will have to write for 3 generations , and I will write about the20 year differences between them.
A.P: Do you have a name for it yet?
R.H: It’s “You can choose your friends” , but I haven’t really done a lot on that. I really want to do some more performing on the radio as well as the T.V. The T.V thing hasn’t really moved yet. I’m writing a lot of new stand-up, I want to do an hour show.
A.P: Thank you for your time, your set very was good. Thanks.