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Interview: Richard Herring

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Perhaps best known for his work with Stewart Lee in the late 90s, Richard Herring is still one of the finest and most thought provoking stand-up comedians touring today.

Richard HerringNow at the start of an epic 90 plus run of gigs for his latest show Christ On A Bike: The Second Coming, it is obvious Herring’s comedy is in high demand.

Last year Herring toured his acclaimed Hitler Moustache show, where he “tried to reclaim it for comedy”. “It’s what came out of the Collings and Herrin podcasts,” he said.

“We started talking about the Hitler moustache and how that once popular moustache has become associated with Hitler and not Charlie Chaplin.”

“I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if I went out and wore one for myself. It all came out of that conversation and became something much bigger.”

Herring admits that he was scared about people’s reactions when he first grew the moustache, but decided to “just go out and see how people respond”.

“People either laughed at me or ignored me; the worst ones were usually when people laughed at me, which is sort of what I was aiming for.”

“It was horrible for me. I really didn’t enjoy having it. I kind of managed to forget it was there most of the time, I’m not sure how I managed to do it but I can’t believe I walked around with that on my face for so long.”

Herring’s new show, Christ On A Bike: The Second Coming, takes a “grown-up childish look at religion”. In which he asks all the important questions about Christianity including ‘How many weeks would you have to attend Roman Catholic Holy Communion before you had consumed an entire Jesus?’.

“It’s looking at my perception of Jesus despite the fact I’m atheist... My mum said ‘if you don’t believe in Jesus why do you spent so much time reading and talking about him?’, I kind of thought that was an interesting thing to explore.”

“A lot of Christians have to come to see it and really enjoy it, it asks questions and challenges people but it’s not massively disrespectful...but it is in places.”

Despite being an atheist, Herring will be celebrating Christmas this year. “It’s a tradition. It’s nice to go back and see your family, have fun with them and do all the traditional stuff.”

“I don’t think you need to be religious to take part in it. I will be coming back home, I’ll be going back to Somerset, seeing my folks and hopefully have a lot of fun with them.”

As well as his live shows, Richard Herring is also a master of radio comedy. He co-hosts the popular Collings and Herrin podcast with Andrews Collins, presents his own podcast As It Occurs To Me and had his own show on BBC Radio 4 earlier this year entitled Richard Herring’s Objective.

“All these things like the radio and TV are good because it helps raise your profile and gets people to come to see you. It’s great to have variety...if someone says ‘come and do that show on TV’, I’ll be more than happy to.”

“At the moment I see myself as a stand up comedian and half my year is touring, writing or recording a show and that’s what I’m aiming for.”

Richard Herring’s big TV break came in the 1990s as part of the Lee & Herring double act with Stewart Lee. Hit shows Fist Of Fun and This Morning With Richard Not Judy established the duo as two of the most interesting people in comedy. But after calling it a day at the end of the ‘90s the two never worked together again, aside from two one-off live shows. But would they work together again?

“It’s a possibility, we’re still friends... We’ve discussed doing it again when we’re old, two old men bickering or something.”

Herring explains that the act’s comedy was quite similar and that they came up with the same jokes due to having the same working methods. He also said of the reunion, “I was playing more of a character in that than Stu was, I think it might be a bit of a backward step for me to go back and play that.”

Herring is quite a tech-savvy comedian, being an avid blogger, podcaster and Tweeter. Twitter is used by many comedians as a way of interacting with their audience.

“As a comedian a lot of your job is quite lonely, it’s quite nice to have a community where you can have a conversation and mess around.”

“I realised quite early that doing blogs and podcasts and Twitter and being funny is a good way of showing people what you can do, and if they like it they’ll keep reading and hopefully they’ll like the live show and buy the DVD.”

Richard Herring is on tour with Christ on a Bike: The Second Coming’. For details see: www.richardherring.com

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