”ÂThere are many roles to comedy and sometimes it’s just to be a silly arse”Â¦”Â
Richard HerringÃÂ has been a mainstay of alternative comedy since the early 90”Â²s. You’ll recognise him as the ”ËHerring’ half ofÃÂ ”ËLee & Herring’ÃÂ for example. We’ve caught up with him mid-tour as he presents his new showÃÂ ”ËWhat Is Love, Anyway?’ÃÂ to discuss the art of being a comedian in the 21st century and his latest podcast offeringÃÂ ”ËMe1 vs. Me2 Snooker with Richard Herring’.
Twitter is growing as a stage for comedy with the likes of Jimmy Carr, Chris Addison, and your good self using it as an almost continuous show. Peter Serafinowicz seldom tours yet he has over 604,000 followers. How important do you think social media is, not only in terms of growing an audience but also in trying out new material?ÃÂ
I’ve found the internet generally a very rich forum for comedy over the last nine years. By giving out stuff for free you get new fans, many of whom are keen to see you when you are touring live or willing to buy a DVD. So any chance you get to show people that you’re funny and let them know when you’re in their town is a great help. I don’t see it as a way of trying out new material – just a place to try and be amusing, but sometimes it will spark something that I might want to use later and it is helpful in ascertaining which blogs or ideas have hit home. My latest podcast Me1 vs Me2 snooker began as a silly time wasting exercise on Twitter. I would never have predicted how involved people would get.
Does promoting your shows via Twitter work? (for example you quite often say there are a few tickets on the door via tweets?)ÃÂ
I think it helps shift a few tickets, but I see Twitter as a information board as well, so I am just trying to let people know I am in their town (because they get annoyed if they find out they’ve missed me). People use Twitter for different reasons and I am trying to keep them all interested. Some want to know about gigs or merchandise or podcasts, others don’t. So it’s about trying to strike a balance.
You seem quite keen on using the internet as a means of communication ”â you often give out your email address in podcasts and writing and I suppose audience participation?
Yes. We always liked participation and feedback in this way, from our early radio shows onwards and we had website in 1995. Fist of Fun was like a social media site before they existed.
Do you follow Michael Winner? You Should.
No. I might give it a go then!
Do ideas grow from Twitter then? Last week you were commentating on the QPR/Chelsea match based on the sounds you heard from your nearby home (”Ëa cheer – might have been an ironic one. Someone might have just done a bad shot or an inadequate bit of racism…’) Surely something like that can be easily developed further?
Exactly as with the snooker thing. It might be, but it might not. I like the ephemeral nature of it all. I am doing something silly and hopefully fun, for the audience who happen to be around at that time. So it’s as valid whether IÃÂ do something else with it or not. Most great comedy happens in a room, in a moment that will never be repeated. Twitter is great for this. Some things become something else; others just remain glorious moments or madness.
How do you personally perceive the role of a comedian within society? Simon Munnery was famously reviewed by The Guardian as being the ”Ëclosest stand-up comedy gets to art’ ”â do you see yourself as an artist?
There are similarities with art. You are showing people how you view the world in the hope that you can alter their view or at least make them look at stuff in a different way and question it. But I also think it’s really important to make people laugh. I like to ask questions that promote post show discussion, rather than really attempt to give answers. But there are many roles to comedy and sometimes it’s just to be a silly arse. But it’s fun to do different things. The snooker podcast is more like an insane Beckett play than a comedy thing. And I think it would work in an art gallery. But hopefully it’s making people laugh too.
Will you be appearing at Edinburgh again this year? Have you any particular shows you’re keen to catch? Are there any new comedians that you are currently into?
I will be up in Edinburgh – I think I am going to have another crack at “Talking Cock”Â and the “Edinburgh Fringe Podcast”Â. Increasingly I concentrate on my own stuff and relax in my downtime. I see less and less stuff every year. It’s a bit early to know who will be up there. But Bridget Christie is always worth a gander and my soon to be wife Catie Wilkins is great too. Enjoying Nick Helm, Joe Lycett, Lou Sanders and many more
What’s the reception to your new Podcast been like? It’s essentially just a man playing Snooker with himself. In audio. Are there any plans to expand it? How did it come about?
Like I said, it was a Twitter thing really. I started playing myself in the dressing room at a venue in Preston which had a snooker table. It reminded me of the many hours I played myself at such games as a lonely child. This seemed to resonate. And I liked the way that characters developed and people took a preference for one player over the other. It felt ripe with possibility.ÃÂ