Comedian Richard Herring was ahead of the curve when it came to the world of podcasts and, as the medium goes through a boom, he’s hoping to attract even bigger star power to his – including Sir Billy Connolly.
The stand-up star has helmed Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (RHLSTP to fans) for several years, welcoming hundreds of guests from the world of comedy and acting.
Now, as the show heads to Glasgow as part of a UK tour, he’s aiming to bring in more A-listers to join the insightful, bizarre world of RHLSTP.
“I’d like to get it so that Hollywood stars on the circuit doing Graham Norton and the likes would come on,” Richard tells The Sunday Post.
“I think it would really work well for people who have no idea who I am or what to expect! If you get the right person you could have a lot of fun with it.”
Scots comedy legend Sir Billy is someone Richard’s tried to get on a few times and remains hopeful to land, as well as Michael Palin.
“If we got someone like George Clooney on the podcast he’d have a really good time,” Richard laughs. “Or it might be a car crash and it might be interesting as well.
“It would be nice to get to that point where someone’s ringing up and saying ‘oh can Sandra Bullock come on?'”
The podcast platform has proved in recent years to be a place where more intimate, insightful conversations can be had with famous faces, away from the polished chat shows or soundbite interviews.
On RHLSTP, Stephen Fry revealed that he had once tried to take his own life, and Les Dennis’ appearance recently led to a number of headlines.
“It’s a long-form interview, something you don’t have so much anymore,” Richard explains. “It’s also one that you know won’t be edited down to make you look silly or take something out of context.
“We pretty much put everything out unless there’s a libel issue or someone says something they shouldn’t have.
“You hear how much of it is funny and how much isn’t funny, it’s less patronising to the audience as well they get to hear it all.
“Things like panel shows record for 90 minutes and are cut down to 25 minutes and they cut down the bits that make the jokes funny, the build-up.”
Good humour forms a large part of the show’s appeal and, having been interviewed plenty of times himself, Richard likes to stray away from the usual, obvious questions.
He says: “There’s respect and research. I will find out something obscure about the guest that they weren’t expecting me to know about. I concentrate more on that sort of stuff and trying to get new stories.
“It opens up the part of their brain that isn’t being accessed if they’re just telling stories they’ve told before. You get new stuff and it opens things up.”
A prime example of this was a recent show with Peter Serafinowicz, who told Richard and the audience, in depth, what it was like being involved with the latest Star Wars films.
“I don’t think he’d have told that story anywhere else,” Richard says. “I got a deep and considered chat about how he found it really exciting but also mildly disappointing in some ways.
“You forget there’s an audience there when you’re telling stories and there’s nearly always a lovely atmosphere.
“Someone asked if they could do the interview in a studio and I felt that no, the thing that sets this apart from a lot of other podcasts that are just two people chatting in a studio is the audience and atmosphere.”
When asked about his favourite guests, Richard lists ‘the most effortlessly funny man in the world’ Bob Mortimer, Greg Davies and Adam Buxton.
He adds: “I had Terry Hall on who is a big hero of mine, and Jonathan Ames who a lot of people asked to get on. Michael Sheen, who I’m slightly in love with, was awesome. Sarah Millican comes on a lot and is brilliant, and Sara Pascoe is fantastic as well.”
After he lists a few more names, it’s clear he’s enjoyed pretty much every guest he’s had on.
For the Glasgow show, it’s another one of his favourite regulars, Limmy, who joins him as the show moves out of Leicester Square to take in some new venues and parts of the country.
“It’s going to be a great one I think, I’m really looking forward to it,” he says.
“Getting Limmy on was a no-brainer, he’s been on with me a couple of times in London so it’ll be great to have him on home turf.
“I’ve got a running joke where I do my Scottish accent, so to come to Glasgow with 1,500 Glaswegians in the audience… I wonder if I’ll escape alive!”
Richard hails Limmy as an ‘absolute genius’, saying that it’s great to see the comedian getting the success he deserves while remaining, in the immortal words of the man himself, surprisingly down to earth, and very funny.
“He’s managed to stay very true to his roots without having to sell out and is carrying on doing TV shows and doing his own thing with Twitch streaming,” Richard says.
“His books are great as well, his autobiography is one of the greatest – you don’t hear that kind of voice and story that often. His journey has been extremely interesting.”
Also joining Richard for the show – which is set to be the biggest yet – is Scots stand-up Fern Brady, who he’s delighted to have on the show.
The rising star has previously featured on Richard’s Edinburgh podcast and is becoming a familiar face on our TV screens.
“I’ve always really liked her, she’s a really ballsy, fantastic performer. It’s going to be great to have her on,” Richard says.
“I love playing Scotland, Glasgow is one of those cities which has its own identity, which not many cities have any more. It’s always a little bit of a tightrope to perform, but I think I’ve done it so many times that I can take the mickey!”
Taking the show around the country has been ‘fantastic fun’, Richard says, especially the fact that he gets to meet fans of the podcast afterwards.
“It’s great to hear how much it means to people. I get people telling me really great stories about how it’s helped them through a difficult time.
“With podcasts it’s such an intimate medium, if you’re ill or lonely then having hours of stuff to listen to is a great thing.
“It was never an intentional thing because it’s quite rude and knockabout and not a sensitive podcast, but weirdly it helps.
“Someone emailed me to say that watching the show with Jimmy Cricket had made them think again about killing themselves – you’d never know that could help someone in that way.”
Richard, a stand-up for many years before the podcast began, hadn’t imagined it would be so successful, and remains proud that it’s still going strong.
“It’s an amazing thing, as a comedian you’re autonomous and creating your own thing, your own work, but I never expected this podcast to still be going after 350-400 episodes and become arguably bigger than the stand-up shows.
“It’s great because there’s no axe hanging over it. If you’re on TV you can be massively successful but suddenly someone takes over and decides they don’t want you.
“As long as we’re all happy then the podcast will carry on. It feels like it belongs as much to the listener as it does to me.”
Richard Herring, The Theatre Royal Glasgow, November 24. Visit www.rhlstp.co.uk