Lee and Herring

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Lee and Herring
Medium Television, Radio, Stage
Nationality English
Years active 1992–2000
Genres Sketch comedy
Subject(s) British culture
Influences Monty Python
Ted Chippington
Notable works and roles Fist of Fun
This Morning with Richard Not Judy
Members Richard Herring
Stewart Lee

Lee and Herring were a British standup comedy double act consisting of the comedians Stewart Lee and Richard Herring. They were most famous for their work on television, most notably Fist of Fun and This Morning With Richard Not Judy but had been working together on stage and on radio since the late 1980s.

As with many double acts, Lee and Herring performed as contrasting personalities: one intellectual and rational (Lee) and the other daft and charming (Herring). As with several other double acts, Lee and Herring had a certain irony to their style and constantly checked themselves and made reference to this. The characters of Lee and Herring were parodies and exaggerations of their real world selves.

In 2011, Frank Skinner cited Lee & Herring as one of his favourite comedy double acts, alongside Laurel and Hardy, The Two Ronnies and Reeves and Mortimer.[1]

History[edit]

Lee and Herring first met at a party while they were studying at Oxford University. Lee had been performing comedy on the circuit for a short while and had heard that Herring had begun doing similar so he introduced himself. Lee once remarked that one of the reasons they decided to work as a double act was that they found the resemblance of the title "Lee and Herring" to worcestershire sauce brand Lea & Perrins humorous.

At Oxford, Lee and Herring performed in a regular comedy revue called The Seven Raymonds, which also included the material and performance of Emma Kennedy, Michael Cosgrave and Tim Richardson.

Together they wrote material for Chris Morris' On The Hour (1991). However, a management conflict meant that the duo were not involved in the television version, The Day Today, and that their material was edited out of the official BBC audio releases of On The Hour.

In 1992 and 1993, they wrote and performed Lionel Nimrod's Inexplicable World for BBC Radio 4. For BBC Radio 1, they wrote and performed one series of Fist of Fun (1993), which was later remade for television and would pave the way for their mainstream fame. Fist of Fun made several subtle references to their dislike for former colleague Patrick Marber. Lee and Herring fell out with the On The Hour team after a row over ownership of characters; Patrick Marber has claimed that he invented the character of news reporter Peter O'Hanraha-hanrahan, while Lee and Herring also claim to have invented the character.[2]

After the radio version of Fist of Fun, they presented another Radio 1 show running for 3 series, simply entitled Lee and Herring (but often referred to as Lee & Herring's Radio One Music Show) which featured a mixture of records chosen by the duo themselves, and their usual sketches and chat.

Their final major work as a double-act was This Morning With Richard Not Judy (TMWRNJ), which aired on Sunday mornings on BBC Two for series in 1998 and 1999, and was famous[citation needed] for being strikingly risky and adventurous.

Break-up[edit]

Lee and Herring went their separate ways at the end of the 1990s and have both enjoyed major fringe and mainstream successes. Stewart Lee left stand-up comedy in the early 2000s, a time in which he co-wrote Jerry Springer - The Opera and directed Attention Scum! for Simon Munnery. He came back to stand-up in 2005, touring very successful shows, and has written and performed two series of his own BBC 2 television show Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle, with a further two commissioned for 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Richard Herring went on to write the sitcoms Time Gentlemen Please for Sky One with Al Murray, and You Can Choose Your Friends (which was loosely based on his own family) for ITV, and worked on the third series of Little Britain as script editor. Herring has written, performed and toured with a number of successful comedy shows including Christ on a Bike, Hitler Moustache and We're All Going To Die, building up an audience through the medium of podcasts which include Collings and Herrin with Andrew Collins and his interview show Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast. 2013 is his 22nd year at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where he has performed 10 different stand-up shows in as many years.

Reunions[edit]

Infrequently, Lee and Herring regroup for one-off occasions. Recent collaborations included an interview together for The Guardian and a 2005 review of each other's work for the arts supplement of The Sunday Times.

The pair performed a short double act at London's Bloomsbury Theatre on 5 February 2007 as part of a tribute to stand-up comedian Ted Chippington.

They reunited for a 30-minute set at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith on 16 November 2008, where they were joined at the end by a resurrected Curious Orange.[3]

A brief reunion also took place at the Edinburgh Fringe 2010 at Stewart Lee's Silver Stewbelie show in which Herring heckled him and ran on stage, berating him for his pretentious new book.[4]

Herring interviewed Lee in June 2012 on his series Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast. The filmed version of this encounter has both an individual release by indie company Go Faster Stripe, and acts as extra material on the Series Two Fist of Fun box set. Other podcast appearances between the two include Richard Herring's Edinburgh Fringe Podcast in August 2013.

On June 2nd 2014, Lee and Herring briefly appeared on stage together when Lee introduced Herring's section at a British Humanist Association benefit.[5]

Works[edit]

Radio[edit]

Television[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Lee & Herring's Fist of Fun (1995) BBC Books

References[edit]

External links[edit]