IN baseball there is a pitch thrown by a pitcher which is called a curveball.
It is defined as thus: ‘A delivery in which the pitcher causes the ball to deviate from a straight path by imparting spin.’ The more informal definition of a curveball is : ‘something which is unexpected, surprising, or disruptive’.
The unexpected angle is what Richard Herring pulls off with his comedy and has throughout this career, as he has thrown his own comedy curveball.
Richard’s career has been wide and varied. Between 1992 and 2000, Richard was one half of the comely duo Lee and Herring.
His comedy partner in this was Stewart Lee.
After the duo called it a day and went their separate ways, Richard has been involved in writing a variety of comedy scripts as well as pushing forward with his own comedy career.
His stand up shows included Richard Herring is Fat, Richard Herring is all man, Hitler moustache, Christ on a bike: The Second Coming, Lord of the Dance Settee and Oh Frig. I’m 50.
He is heading to Somerset and will appear at the Wells Comedy Festival which runs from May 26-28. There will be nearly 40 comedy shows across four venues in Wells over the bank holiday weekend.
The line-up includes Richard Herring, Stewart Lee, Sara Pascoe, Milton Jones, James Acaster, Bridget Christie, Joe Lycett and many more.
Ahead of the festival, Richard spoke about comedy and his views on the impact it has made and is still making on him and his life.
He said: “It has been a successful job with ups and downs. You struggle to cope with elements of it when you are a young person as you fear you are only as good as your last gig. It is the same when you cannot think of anything to write. You can let it get on top of you and it can all get a bit crazy as you worry am I going to push myself over the edge?
“People can lose track of themselves but hopefully I have been able to keep my feet on the ground. I have been doing this for 30 years and I am ambitious, optimistic and find it thrilling.
“It is an amazing and a surreal way to make a living. I cannot believe it is my job. I am literally my own boss but I am only as good as my last gig and I have to keep pushing myself. I cannot afford to rest on my laurels.
There is no censorship for me beyond what the audience will accept. What is great is when you ad lib in a show and what you say comes out perfectly and that is part of the creativity which I love.
“I am really happy on stage as I find it exciting as anything can happen and if it does it surprises me. It is a amazing feeling when people are really laughing. I can be obsessed about getting it better.
"My dream as a kid was to be a comedy writer and I am able to make a good living from it.
"When doing my best of shows I have been impressed by how much of what I have written from the early shows still works well.
“When I look at stuff I wrote two and a half years ago I think I must have done something right.
Looking at the material shows me how my life has progressed and how much I have developed.
“Some of the jokes have to change or pulled as if it went on social media today it would be contentious as some of the things do not work or are offensive. It is a balancing act.”
This comedy balancing act is something which Richard likes to push and extend and raise issues which he wants to talk about even if his audience are unsure.
He said: “I can say what I want and I can have a discussion with people. I am always fascinated by the technical aspects of comedy and the subtle changes which can be done to improve the act.
What you should do is do your own stuff, create your own world and feel comfortable in it. Then you need to change it and make people uncomfortable.
“You have to be creative and push yourself. I do not think when you are onstage there is no subject out of bounds as long as it is original. You have to challenge yourself.
“To make people laugh and for them to be responsive. This is part of the creative experience as each show is unique. The best thing about it is when it is going right.”
Find out about the Wells Comedy Festival and buy tickets go online to wellscomfest.com