Tuesday, 8 June 2010

As It Occurs To Me

Those of you who know me will already know that I'm a big fan of comedian Richard Herring, best known for "Fist Of Fun" and "This Morning With Richard, Not Judy" - his 90s series with Stewart Lee. I listen to all his podcasts (Collins & Herring, Collings & Herrin, and of course, As It Occurs to Me, or AIOTM (pronounced A-Eye-Aw-Tim-Uh) and I guess I could be described as a bit of a fanboy.

As It Occurs To Me is a stand up and sketch show which Herring writes on the Sunday, performs on the Monday and releases for free on the Tuesday. It's a brave venture, and one that originally looked destined to fall on its arse, but every week without fail some pretty amazing comedy is produced. The USP of this show is that Herring does not edit anything out, and the whole thing, no matter how successful or otherwise is released. As Richard explained in one of the previous shows "I don't want to patronise our listeners. is 'patronise' the right word? No, I don't want to 'respect' our listeners." (paraphrasing).

The idea came to Richard during the aftermath of the Ross/Brand incident. The BBC had to be extra careful with what could be allowed on the radio, and bypassing the broadcasters seemed like the best way to get the comedy out there.

The cast comprises of Herring, Dan Tetsell, Emma Kennedy and Christian Reilly, all of whom have worked together before. The show starts with Herring doing around half an hour of stand up, which along with a few tried and tested routines, mainly consists of riffing with the audience. He can be quite rude to the people he picks to chat to, but it is always done with a cheeky grin, and I think all of the audience secretly want to be called a "fucking idiot" by Herring!

I started my evening with a visit to The Stockpot on Old Compton Street. This is a great little restaurant whose menu (or prices) don't seem to have changed much since the 1970s. Its a good place to eat alone, but a dreadful place to take a date, unless you're planning to break up with them anyway.

I'm going to detour briefly here. I used to be the assistant manager of The Admiral Duncan in Soho, and every day without fail I would see Smurf. Smurf was one of the many homeless guys that would base himself in Soho. He clearly had a number of other problems as well as the obvious, but Smurf was a really nice guy. My boss and I knew quite a lot of the regular homeless people in Soho and we all had a good relationship with them. We would both give a small amount of money each day to the first of the regulars we saw and it was inevitably Smurf. In return he and the other regulars would let us know about any dodgy people that were coming into the bar, like an advanced warning system. It was very much a mutually beneficial arrangement. After a year or so, Smurf wasn't around any more and I had heard that he was either in prison, hospital, or dead.

However it was great to bump into Smurf this evening and chat with him. His mum had just died and she had left him her house in Ireland which he has put on the market. He has moved in with his dad in Kent after not speaking to him in 29 years and things were finally starting to look up for him.

Anyway, off to the theatre and took my seat. Herring did a good half hour of material, including a short preview of his upcoming "Christ On A Bike" show. he does need to work on relearning the genealogy of Jesus though...

During the break I met The_Phosphene who I had been chatting to on Twitter & we arranged to meet after the show. I'm not going to review the whole show as you can easily download it here or from iTunes (as you can for the next 4 Tuesdays - or even better, go along to the gig!), but needless to say, Tiny Andrew Collings (absolutely NOTHING to do with Andrew Collins, Richard's podcast partner and respected broadcaster and writer) was the star of the show with Herring trying to apologise and backpedal for going too far in last weeks show. It did look like the apology was going well, but in the end I think it made things much, much worse.

It was a shame I couldn't get my hand high enough to catch his attention during the part where Richard asks the audience what has occurred to them that week. I was going to apologise for not being able to attend last week's show due to seeing Michael Legge and Andrew Collins instead, but was confused at seeing Andrew Collins chatting with Tiny Andrew Collings. This had blown my mind. But I soon found out that it wasn't Dan Tetsell, but his doppelganger Danny Wallace (who was an extremely nice chap.)

After the show finished I chatted at the bar to The_Phosphene (aka Jack) as well as the ever-lovely Rob Sedgebeer. I have met Herring on quite a number of occasions, and only recently have I stopped being a bit of an over-talkative drunken dick while chatting to him. Richard is a very affable guy in real life and always has time for a chat. Although one Irish guy did tell Richard that if he didn't play in Ireland more he would punch him in the face. He said it with a smile so I can only assume he was joking but that in itself seemed to make it more threatening to my ears! Though things cheered up as Jack regaled Richard with his 3some story, which I found very touching <aside - I didn't..>

Highlight of my evening was getting to finally touch an actual pinpod*. Emma Kennedy had hers with her and I simply had to ask her to let me hold it and prod it. I'm not sure if I'll get a pinpod* yet, but if I had a few hundred quid I wouldn't miss then I definitely would. It's a lovely thing.

Jack and I headed toThe Porcupine by Leicester Square and swapped comedy memories, eventually chatting with a young lad at the bar and trying to explain AIOTM to him. This is actually quite tricky after a few beers and trying to explain the in-jokes, but if he turns up next week, then I think Richard will owe me at least £5. Which will probably through some unusual logic result in Andrew Collins owing him twice as much.

* no explanation will be posted here in tribute to Andrew's confusion at the lack of an asterisk explanation on a bottle of Plax, but all is revealed on the podcast!

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