With his podcast As It Occurs To Me, Richard Herring created a new model for comedy. He gives away the weekly show online, but makes it financially worthwhile by charging people to watch it being made.
Each week during the series, devotees of AIOTM, as they know it, would gather in London’s Leicester Square Theatre to watch the radio-style recording of the show Herring had written just that week – or, more likely, the night before.
Now, like a hugely efficient slaughterhouse mechanically recovering the last scraps of gristle off the bones of a pig’s stripped-down carcass, even the bits of warm-up for these live show have been released on a combined DVD and CD.
It seems an almost accidental product, far from the well-crafted shows that normally get a commercial release. Indeed, Herring frequently refers to the fact that this material – comprised largely of semi-improvised banter and ideas that ‘aren’t good enough’ to make the actual podcast – won’t be heard outside the theatre’s walls. ‘That won’t be on the internet,’ he typically says. ‘Mainly because it’s rubbish.’
It’s not really rubbish, but much of these six separate preambles are just compere-style chats with the audience that prove amusing enough diversions to get a show settled in, but not, you would have thought worth preserving for posterity. For instance, you will hear of the toilet-sharing arrangement the venue has struck with the nearby Burger King to avoid lengthy queues not once, but six times.
What does make these official bootlegs worthwhile, however, are the bits of old routines Herring dregs up, sometimes to his own surprise, from his previous tour shows, or occasionally even further back. There are extracts from Christ On A Bike, the playfully blasphemous 2000 show he was revisiting at the time, and his midlife crisis-inspured Oh Fuck I’m 40! plus embarrassingly naïve teenage diaries, stories and a poem, which the adult, always knowing, Herring has fun mocking.
Most of his fans might be assumed to already have much of this material, so you might think this might be one for the completists only. But for £10 for nearly four hours of stand-up you do get a lot for your money, making it good value even if it’s not the sort of CD you’re likely to return to time and time again.
To add to the haphazard nature of this disc, indeed of AIOTM itself, one of these ‘secret stand-ups’ also comes as a video; while there’s also a video recording of one of the podcast recordings too, all revolving around wonderfully contrived soap opera surrounding the semi-fictional Little Andrew Collings, plus a few bits of stand-up and contributions from Dan Tetsell, Emma Kennedy and Christian Reilly.
There are quite a few in-jokes, of the sort that helps built up a loyal returning audience, but it doesn’t take too much to get up to speed. It’s charmingly rough around the edges, such is the nature of the beast, but there are also some inspired moments, mixing stupidly imaginative ideas and self-deprecatory comments. And if you don’t know whether you’ll like it – all 23 instalments to date are still available on iTunes. If they tickle you, it’s surely got to be worth buying the hybrid CD/DVD to support the venture.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
- Richard Herring: As It Occurs To Me Secret Standup is released on Go Faster Stripe, priced £10. Click here to buy it.