Richard Herring

Richard Keith Herring (born 12 July 1967) is an English stand-up comedian and comedy writer whose early work includes the comedy double act Lee and Herring. He is described by The British Theatre Guide as "one of the leading hidden masters of modern British comedy".[1]

Richard Herring
Herring during the final performance of As It Occurs To Me in 2011
Born (1967-07-12) 12 July 1967
Pocklington, East Yorkshire, England
MediumStand up, radio, television, podcast
EducationThe Kings of Wessex School
Alma materSt Catherine's College, Oxford
Years active1987–present
GenresBlack comedy, insult comedy, satire, irony, wit, deadpan
Catie Wilkins (m. 2012)
Notable works and rolesFist of Fun
This Morning with Richard Not Judy
Time Gentlemen Please
The Collings and Herrin Podcast
Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast

Towards the end of the double act, Herring also worked as a writer, producing four plays. After Lee and Herring went their separate ways he co-wrote the sitcom Time Gentlemen Please, but quickly returned to performance with concept-driven one-person shows like Talking Cock, Hitler Moustache and Christ on a Bike as well as regular circuit stand-up. Herring has created thirteen of these stand-up shows since 2004, performing them for eleven consecutive years at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with annual tours and a final performance recorded for DVD. His 2016–17 show was a 'best of' tour, drawing from these shows.[2]

He is recognised as a pioneer of comedy podcasting,[3][4][5] initially with broadcaster Andrew Collins on The Collings and Herrin Podcast and more recently with high-profile comedians such as Simon Pegg, Russell Brand and Stephen Fry on Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast. He has maintained a daily blog called Warming Up without a break since 25 November 2002.[6] His blog is archived by the British Library for purposes of UK documentary heritage.[7]

Early life

Richard Herring was born in Pocklington, East Riding of Yorkshire, and grew up in Cheddar, Somerset. He is the youngest of three children.[8] He attended The Kings of Wessex School, where his father was the headmaster and maths teacher. This later formed the basis of his 2008 stand-up show, The Headmaster's Son. Herring’s mother was also a teacher.[8] The 2007 ITV comedy drama You Can Choose Your Friends, which he wrote and also starred in, was based on his family.[8]

Herring was a student at St Catherine's College, Oxford, where he wrote and performed for a comedy troupe known as the Seven Raymonds as well as the Oxford Revue. He attained a 2:1 in History.[9]


Lee and Herring

Between 1992 and 2000, Richard was half of the stand-up comedy double act with Stewart Lee. Their television work included Fist of Fun and This Morning With Richard Not Judy, and they had been collaborating on stage and radio projects since the 1980s.

Lee and Herring wrote material for Chris Morris and Armando Iannucci's On the Hour in 1991 and the duo contributed to the creation of the character that was to be Alan Partridge.[10] In 1992 and 1993, they wrote and performed Lionel Nimrod's Inexplicable World for Radio 4. For Radio 1, they wrote and performed one series of Fist of Fun in 1993, remaking it for television in 1995 and 1996. They hosted a series on Radio 1 in 1994 and 1995, called Lee and Herring. A final television partnership with Lee, This Morning With Richard Not Judy, ran for 18 episodes over two series was eventually cancelled "as a result of BBC management reshuffles".[11]

In 2011, Frank Skinner cited Lee & Herring as one of his favourite comedy double acts, alongside Laurel and Hardy, The Two Ronnies and Reeves and Mortimer.[12]

Solo work

Herring has written and performed in thirteen one-person shows, eleven of them consecutively. A Herring show typically starts with a run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, continues with an extensive UK tour and ends with a recorded performance for DVD.

For radio, Herring co-wrote and presented the history based sketch show That Was Then, This Is Now. For television he wrote Al Murray's sitcom Time Gentlemen Please. He also contributed to the third series of Little Britain as script editor.

In 2005, he presented a chat show called Heads Up with Richard Herring on the Pokerzone channel, in which he interviewed professional poker players and celebrities about their careers and their love of the game. There were 10 episodes in total.[13]

In February 2007, filming began on Herring's comedy drama You Can Choose Your Friends. As well as writing the script, he also acted alongside Gordon Kennedy, Claire Skinner, Rebecca Front, Sarah-Jane Potts, Robert Daws, Anton Rodgers and Julia McKenzie. The show was broadcast on ITV on 7 June 2007.[14]

In January 2008 he began the Collings and Herrin (sic) podcast with Andrew Collins. They celebrated their two-year anniversary with a live "100th" podcast (it was actually the 105th recording) at the Leicester Square Theatre. On 30 January 2010 the pair began a tenure of sitting in for Adam and Joe on BBC Radio 6 Music on Saturdays mornings, a slot they occupied for more than a year.[15]

Herring's 2008 stand-up set The Headmaster's Son earned four 5-star reviews and several 4-star reviews.[16][17][18] The set covers his experience growing up in The Kings of Wessex School in Somerset where his father worked as headmaster and how this may have been the origin of his fondness for telling puerile jokes. The show was seen by critics as a thoughtful look at his upbringing,[1] and his relationship with his father, to whom the show is dedicated.

Herring launched his show, Hitler Moustache in 2009 to see if he "could reclaim the toothbrush moustache for comedy – it was Chaplin's first, then Hitler ruined it."[19] The show discusses broader issues, such as fascism and the British National Party.[20] Herring and some of his contemporaries, including Dave Gorman, were angered when material from his show was misrepresented in a Guardian column by critic Brian Logan.[21][19][20][22]

On 14 October 2010, his Radio 4 series Richard Herring's Objective was first broadcast. Here Herring attempts to reclaim controversial items, starting with the toothbrush moustache and moving onto the hoodie, Flag of England and Dolly the Sheep. An Edinburgh special about the See-you-Jimmy hat was broadcast in August 2011 and a second series was recorded in October 2011 with episodes about the golliwog, the wheelchair, Page 3 and the old school tie.[23]

On 27 December 2010, Herring finished second on Celebrity Mastermind with a final score of 34 points. His specialist subject was Rasputin.[24] He was The Pod Delusion "Comedian of the Year 2010" [25]

In May 2011 it was announced that Fist of Fun would be released on DVD by Go Faster Stripe. The first series was released in December 2011[26] and the second in November 2012,[27] winning 'Best DVD' at the 2013 Chortle Awards [28]

In August and September 2015, he performed all 11 of his previous one man shows, plus a new one, Happy Now?, at the Leicester Square Theatre over the course of six weekends in a season called "The Twelve Shows of Herring".[29] Happy Now? was taken on a 50-plus date UK tour between October 2015 and June 2016. His 2017 tour show was called Richard Herring — The Best. His 2017 Edinburgh Fringe show is called "Oh Frig, I'm 50!" This was taken on a UK tour in the Spring of 2018.

Blogs, podcasts and internet

On 25 November 2002 Herring started his blog, Warming Up as a way to overcome writer's block.[30] He has written an entry for every day, and has over 6,000 consecutive entries. His regular readership is estimated to be around 3,000. Some ideas recorded in Warming Up have been used in his live shows. The first year of his blog is collected in two books, Bye Bye Balham and The Box Lady and Other Pesticles.

On 12 October 2009, he recorded the first episode of As It Occurs To Me, a weekly radio-style stand-up and sketch show made for the Internet. It stars him, Emma Kennedy, Dan Tetsell and Christian Reilly and currently stands at 18 episodes and 5 bonus mini-episodes. It was nominated for best internet show at the 2010 Sony Awards, though it failed to place. On 7 February 2011, As It Occurs to Me won the first Chortle Internet award [31] On 20 March 2012 he retained it.[32] In 2017, As It Occurs To Me returns as a six-episode web series.

In 2013, Herring won the Chortle Award for his Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, which again won the award in 2014.[28][33] In 2012 he had recorded the first 16 episodes of the long-running Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast with guests including Tim Minchin, Stewart Lee, Adam Buxton, David Mitchell and Armando Iannucci.[34] It was nominated for a Sony Award for Best Comedy alongside a list of BBC produced comedy shows in 2013.[35] The show won the Bronze Award.[36] In May and June 2013 he recorded nine podcasts with guests including Stephen Fry, Russell Brand and Mary Beard.[37] His interview with Stephen Fry, was covered by national and international news media including the BBC and Sky News when Fry revealed a recent suicide attempt.[38][39] The series continued with Harry Shearer, Eddie Izzard and David Cross.

On 17 November 2013, he recorded the first episode of a six-part internet stand-up, sketch and interview show Richard Herring's Meaning of Life, structured around the philosophical concepts of 'Creation', 'the Paranormal', 'Love', 'Death', 'Good & Evil' and 'the Shape of Things To Come',[40][41][42] the episode being broadcast online between February 2014 and early 2015.

In February 2014, the first Richard Herring Show was broadcast on Fubar Radio.[43] Herring presented this with comedian Lou Sanders weekly, before quitting the show together; their final episode was broadcast on 24 May 2014.

On 8 March 2018, in aid of International Women’s Day, Richard raised over £150,000 for domestic abuse charity Refuge by responding to anyone on Twitter who asked when International Men's Day was (it is 19 November).[44][45] He did the same on 8 March 2019, raising almost £130,000 [46].

Motifs and tropes

  • Misspelling words for comic effect, most commonly by adding a superfluous 's' (as in 'John Majors') or 'g' (as in 'skellington')[47]
  • Recurrence of the name Ian for characters, especially as a stand-in name for the imagined director of a company (as in 'Ian Starbucks').
  • Unlikely acronyms (as in tmwrnj for This Morning With Richard Not Judy) and complex, self-defeating mnemonics (as in abia-ibja-jbjah-baj-bpa zot-apbea-ebaaa-baaa-bnanb-sasb-bora-bboora-obja-jbdt-kadt-kbsoh-thbtwo-uas-bra-rbaaa-baaa-bjaj bjaj-boa-obja-jbaaa-bea-ebmam-baaa-bja-jbjah-batt-twcat-baatwb-tbjbs-asbzaz-baaa-beaebaaabs-as-baaa-beaebea-ebmam-jaj-bj-thomow-wbj-wicc for the genealogy of Christ.)
  • Maintaining that every film would be better "with a Shrek in it"
  • Always referring to Martin Freeman as "Tim from The Office"

Body of work

Stand up shows

Year Show Cycle
Edinburgh Tour DVD
1994 Richard Herring is Fat[48] Yes
1995 Richard Herring is All Man[49][50] Yes
2001 Christ on a Bike Yes Yes
2002 Talking Cock[51] Yes Yes
2004 The 12 Tasks of Hercules Terrace[52] Yes Yes Yes
2005 Someone Likes Yoghurt[53] Yes Yes Yes
2006 Ménage à un[54] Yes Yes Yes
2007 Oh Fuck, I'm 40![55] Yes Yes Yes
2008 The Headmaster's Son[56] Yes Yes Yes
2009 Hitler Moustache[57] Yes Yes Yes
2010 Christ on a Bike: The Second Coming[58] Yes Yes Yes
2011 What Is Love, Anyway?[59] Yes Yes Yes
2012 Talking Cock: The Second Coming[60] Yes Yes Yes
2013 We're All Going To Die![61] Yes Yes Yes
2014 Lord of the Dance Settee [62] Yes Yes Yes
2015 Happy Now? No Yes Yes
2016 Richard Herring: The Best No Yes No
2017 Oh Frig, I'm 50! [63] Yes Yes Yes
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