Comic Herring puts spotlight on big issue for men

Richard Herring has become pretty good at talking about his latest show.

Richard Herring
Richard Herring

It’s not only because it’s a show he is revisiting after he first performed it to great acclaim in Edinburgh a decade ago, but because he has had to find ways to make the show, which is a little difficult to write about in a family newspaper, sound palatable.

“I think the easiest thing to say is that the show is like a male version of The Vagina Monologues,” he says of the show, the title of which we can’t print.

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“It’s a celebration of men. It’s not saying that we are like cavemen and that’s to be celebrated or anything like that, it’s addressing this really big issue that exists for men, but it’s an issue we don’t talk about.

“It does make it a little tricky to talk about it in the media.”

Herring is no longer one half of a comedy duo, but it was as the partner of Stewart Lee that he first found fame. Having met at Oxford, the pair began writing comedy together, progressing to radio, and, via working with Steve Coogan and Armando Iannucci, landed their own TV show.

It was a heady time and Fist of Fun has just been released as a DVD 20 years after it was first broadcast. Herring, however, doesn’t necessarily look back with enormous fondness on those times.

“It was brilliant, but the problem was that you end up thinking that’s what happens. You do a radio show, you then get given a TV show; we were young and didn’t know any different,” says Herring.

These days it is quite different – although it is, in many ways, much better for the outspoken comedian. When their TV shows were cancelled, Herring and Lee went their separate ways. Although it wasn’t acrimonious, Herring is clear that the partnership was always destined to end.

“When you work that closely with someone you’re always bound to get on each other’s nerves,” says Herring.

At the beginning of the last decade, Herring decided he wanted to try his hand at stand up. The show he brings to four Yorkshire venues next weekend, was his first.

So, the show we can’t really talk about, that deals with the state of modern man – why bring it back after a ten year hiatus?

“I’ve been performing stand up for a decade now, so for a start, I’m better at it,” he says.

“I am really fond of the show and wanted to see how it would be coming back to it with ten years of experience of actually performing stand up behind me.”

He visits Harrogate, Leeds, York and the town in which he was born, Pocklington, on the four Yorkshire nights of the latest tour.

These days Herring is able to tour a show such as this latest one, and sustain four nights in Yorkshire, despite the fact that he hasn’t been on TV in over a decade, because of his sustained popularity via the internet.

These days Herring uses podcasts and Twitter to connect directly with his fans.

“The great thing about the podcasts is that you can let them go on as long as you like and you have much more freedom than you would if you were doing something like that on television,” he says.

“It’s why he gets away with one particular podcast in which he plays snooker – against himself – while providing his own commentary. And perhaps why he gets away with touring a show with a name we can’t print.