Being a tech head, I find most of my comedy fixes on the internet. That's not to say that I don't watch the TV or listen to the radio, but as a comedy fan who travels a lot, spending most of my time at the wheel watching life speed past at 70mph, I find my funnies in podcasts.
Mostly, these originated from Radio 4. Friday night comedy (usually The News Quiz or The Now Show) or Comedy Of The Week. I usually find myself working or unable to listen when they air, so the podcasts are especially useful.
But as funny as they are, I do find myself listening to the same people, trotting out the same satirical jokes, but to a different political storyline that happens to be running that week. To be honest, it's getting a tad dull.
Radio 4 Extra's Newsjack, the all-too-short-running series, woke me up a little to new writing talent. One-line specialists, 30-second sketches and the like written by new talent with a new(ish) take on current affairs, but even that freshness can sometimes fall into the mundane satire of throwing bottles from the back of the room toward whatever political entity happens to make the news that week.
Yesterday, I'd stacked up several episodes of The News Quiz for a long journey; but about a third of the way through the second episode, I switched it off. I wasn't laughing. The political point scoring by 'holier than thou' comics and commentators just got too tedious to listen to. I had heard it all before, just in a different context.
TV could be said to be doing much the same. Mock The Week is a particular culprit with the same comics, doing the same jokes, throwing the same bottles toward the same people. I find myself not laughing as much as i used to. The freshness has gone. The edgy, free thinking comics seem to have been replaced by the same faces who mostly try to outdo each other in the 'right-on' stakes.
So I find myself searching for something. The trouble was, I didn't know what I was searching for. iTunes provided me with radio shows dressed up as comedy shows. American podcasters are just a little too American for my tastes, although Sick And Wrong is a strong contender for a permanent place on my podcast list. Hint: It does what the title says. It does however, make me laugh.
In the last few weeks though, a comic has caught my eye. Not because he is new and fresh, but because he pushes out so much comic material that as a podcast listener, I was unable to avoid him.
You all know Richard Herring. I caught one of his Warming Up podcasts a few days ago, and have since found myself downloading more and more of his comedy shows. The Edinburgh Fringe podcasts, As It Occurs To Me (AIOTM), and the Leicester Square podcast are mostly a joy to listen to. His routines don't always hit the mark, but I have realised that in his search for better routines and comedy, he is taking bigger risks and different avenues in the hope of making me laugh.
Richard pops up on the TV and radio from time to time. Most people will associate him with Stewart Lee and assume that the Herring half of Lee and Herring has fallen by the wayside. Not a bit of it. It turns out that Richard has been working away furiously in the background producing some comedy gems in the form of podcasts and one man shows that are a delight to listen to. Such a delight in fact, I want to go and see him live.
This is one comedy podcast listener who is glad to have rediscovered him.
Is podcasting the future for comics? Probably not, as TV or radio is the pinnacle of making it in their line of business. But let it not be said that podcasts are a wasteland of unheard of comedy and comics. It could be that it is the very place for established comedians to try out something new. Try out a different avenue or satirical stance. To be fresh, to reinvigorate a routine and try it out online before taking it to the airwaves.
There is one podcast listener out here who is desperate to hear it.
- Paul Martin tweets at @ukcameraman