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Richard Herring interview: Don't hold your breath for Richard not Judy

By
Richard Herring
Kate Bush may have 50 words for snow, but that's nothing compared to the thousands of synonyms Richard Herring has for the humble penis.

Spam javelin, Kojak's money box, cyclops dachshund... Herring shared a few with us at last week's 'Laugh or the Polar Bear Gets It' Friends of the Earth benefit gig in London.

After a fine night of comedy, which featured Ed Byrne, Stewart Lee, Vikki Stone and Tony Law (among others), Digital Spy bundled our way rudely backstage to chat to Richard about all things cock, Christ and comedy.

How's the second coming of Talking Cock doing?
"It's only really just starting in two or three weeks. I've done Edinburgh, I've done previews, and I've done five or six shows... I think I'll add another five or ten minutes. The Edinburgh venue was a bit hard. There was a lot of noise outside, doing it in an hour's hard. But all the gigs I've done post-Edinburgh have gone really well."

Considering the hassle and protests when you resurrected Christ on a Bike - why opt to bring back Talking Cock?
"I haven't got it on DVD is the main thing. I think a lot of new people have come to my work since I did those two shows in 2001, 2002. It's not available for anyone who wants to see it. Also, I really enjoyed doing Christ on a Bike again, that was my first one-man show. To go back with years of experience - it was good to re-do it and do it better. I want to do that with Talking Cock as well.

Richard Herring - Talking Cock
Richard Herring


"I don't think I'll do that with any of the other shows, because all the ones I like are on DVD. The things I did in the '90s I don't think are really resurrectable. It's a little bit of a breather not to write an entire new show, but to be honest it's the same amount of work - you've got to re-remember it. I still do 50, 60 previews... I think both those shows are two of my favourite one-man shows. It felt a shame that they disappeared into the aether."

Luke Haines doesn't write songs about child murder now he's got a kid - has getting married affected your material?
"It's made me write more jokes about wife-killing! No, I don't think it's really changed things. I think as you get older you change your priorities about what you think is funny. There are things I'd have done in the past that I probably wouldn't do now. The Ménage à Un and Oh F**k I'm 40 shows - I'm not the same guy who wrote those shows. It would be weird to go back and do those again, even if I wanted to.

"I've been with my wife for five years, and I think it's given me a solid base. The last five years I've done my best material - my best stand-up. I still do fairly disgusting and stupid things, my podcasts are still ridiculous filth - I don't think that itself will change. Maybe as I get older I'll think as a 60-year-old man should I be doing these stupid jokes? Should I be flirting with these girls in the audience? Who knows? It's a positive thing so far."

Your Leicester Square Podcasts are great fun - had you considered doing them as a TV thing?
"I'm really enjoying them... I sort of mentioned it to my manager who thought it would be really hard to get a chat show on TV. In a way, I sort of think what's good about it is that it can go on for two hours, we can talk about one thing - Peter Serafinowicz talked for 25 minutes about Star Wars pretty much as a soliloquy. You can't do that on TV.



"Putting it on TV it would change it automatically. If the right way of doing it came along I might do it and the more I do it the more someone might go, 'Oh, that's quite an interesting format'. But despite what I say in all my podcasts, I'm only interested in being on TV on correct terms with the right project. It's not the be-all and end-all.

"In fact, doing my own autonomous stuff on the internet regardless of getting paid money or anything, that is for me much better than doing a TV show where I get paid loads of money and have to compromise about stuff. I think it is what it is - and I wouldn't want to spoil it really. So if I could do it without spoiling it I would do it."

Frankie Boyle recently won his libel suit after being called a racist, whereas you went for a right of reply after your Hitler Moustache show was misinterpreted. What would get you calling the lawyers in?
"I was close with that, because I really love The Guardian and I wouldn't want to be responsible for destroying it! But I was close, because it did misrepresent me and the show, and it showed a picture of me. I live in a multicultural area, and if people read that review and saw me... I had a Hitler moustache at the time so I was pretty recognisable..."

A toothbrush moustache!
"Yes, a toothbrush moustache. A Chaplin moustache. I was a bit scared, but it was nice - because when Twitter works it's a great thing. People were supportive and rebutted it, and were saying, 'I've seen the show and this it what it is'. And also they did give me the right of reply, which I think they probably did knowing they did slightly overstep the line.

"I think Frankie was right because he isn't racist. To be called racist... being called a paedophile is the only thing worse. Well, maybe being called a murderer. But in terms of bogeymen in society, being called racist in a newspaper is an awful thing to happen.

Richard Herring - Hitler Moustache
Frankie Boyle

© Rex Features

Frankie Boyle















"His stuff is not racist, whatever you say about it. His stuff is satire about racism. If he's racist, then Hitler Moustache is racist. He uses the language as well and discusses it. People have a weird thing about comedy. They think it should all be jokes and they think there are subjects you shouldn't joke about or words you can't use in jokes.

"I think any serious comedian - and I think that Frankie is a serious comedian and 90% of his stuff I'm completely behind - I think he's fantastic. But it's people thinking you're not allowed to joke about that subject, and if that happens then that's terrible. That's the worst thing to happen, because comedy can treat these subjects intelligently. It's sort of important that it does. It's almost the best sort of discussion about these things."

You mentioned Twitter - Peter Serafinowicz said that it's changed his career - how has the web changed what you do?
"The internet and the podcast have changed things. It just gives me an outlet to do this stuff. I was sitting around for people to come to me for about eight years. I thought, 'I'll just get out there and do my own stuff'. The internet allows you to do your own things. So I've been experimenting with podcasts - doing sketch shows and chat shows. I'd love to take that further.

"The blog has made me a stand-up again and has created loads of stuff that I can then use in other formats. Twitter I think is a good way of getting an audience behind you and letting them know what you're doing but also showing them why you're funny."

You and Stewart Lee released both TV series of Fist of Fun - does that mean This Morning with Richard Not Judy is coming next?
"We've had some problems. The BBC have clamped down a little bit on taste and issues... and watching This Morning with Richard Not Judy I can't really see them letting... I was watching an episode and I thought, 'They won't let most of this through'.



"We'll see how the second series [of Fist of Fun] does. The first series sold well enough to cover most of the cost. Then some other costs came in. We still have to sell some of the second series to break even. That's a result and if it sells as well as the first series we'll make some money - Go Faster Stripe more importantly will make some money.

"It's just a little bit fraught. Especially the second series was a little bit fraught with BBC Worldwide. I think it might mean that This Morning with Richard Not Judy doesn't go out. But Stewart and I were discussing whether we could do like a best-of. I think a lot of it is impenetrable because it's quite topical and it's quite weird. So we might do the sketches or something like that, if we can get it off them [the shows have been leased from the BBC for sale].

"There aren't that many extras because it was live. The only way we could make Fist of Fun financially viable is to do these four-disc sets where you feel I'm getting something for my 25 quid. With a one-disc set that's 25 quid I think you'd go, 'That's too much'. We can add some extras but I don't think it'd be more than two or three discs, so... we'll see - so I wouldn't hold your breath on that one."

Find out how to donate to Friends of the Earth here.
Richard Herring is touring Talking Cock in 2012/13. Tickets are available now.

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