Lee & Herring Press
INTERVIEW, DERNGATE, NORTHAMPTON - May 1996We met Lee & Herring just before their show at Northampton Derngate during their mini-tour of May ’96.
The show was storming, although a bit empty ("Good to see so many ... chairs ... here tonight").
Here’s what they had to say:
BEN: First, we’d like to know how you met up.
RICH: We met at Oxford University and did stuff together at the Comedy Cellar. There was a party, and I was dancing to the Sex Pistols, and Stew decided that was a good enough reason to work with me. ROB: Which comedians have influenced you the most?
STEW: A lot of them are people that we now know, like Simon Munnery [Alan Parker, Urban warrior], a guy called Ted Chippington who’s been around for ages, Harry Hill ...
RICH: All the Monty Python stuff, Bill Hicks ...
ROB: Bill Hicks was good.
RICH: He’s dead, now. Died of cancer ... lung cancer ... neck cancer ...
STEW: Hand cancer.
ROB: I think I’ve go that.
RICH: Too much masturbating.
ROB: Probably, yeah. Um, have you ever lived like Peter?
RICH: I used to live with Peter.
STEW: We lived together about five years ago, and it was pretty much like that.
RICH: I lived with Peter for two years. He’s not as messy as that.
STEW: He’s worse.
RICH: He washes quite often.
BEN: I bet that splashing you hear from the bathroom isn’t washing.
ROB: Is he in the show tonight.
RICH: We wouldn’t have him on tour. He smells.
BEN: Where did Simon Quinlank come from? Do you know anyone like him?
STEW: We know lots of people like him.
RICH: We met a very strange bloke who wrote a fanzine about really minor celebrities, women like Janet Ellis [80’s "Blue Peter" & "Jigsaw" presenter & mother of popstress Sophie Ellis-Bextor], really obscure people. It was all about what clothes they wore ... got a bit of press coverage at the time.
STEW: He was very strange and obsessive. I think he arranged to meet one of them at a pantomime or something, and she wanted police protection.
RICH: He’s just someone with obsessions and bad grammar. We’re all obsessed with something, but we laugh at trainspotters, so we tried to create a character who was a bit like that. Stew collects records, some people spot trains. Records are just pieces of vinyl. A train moves, it takes you all round the country! Does more than a record.
STEW: I don’t like them.
RICH: [warming to his subject] I mean, trains cost millions of pounds, billions of pounds, and it’s a feat of engineering! I can understand why people like them.
STEW: [coldly menacing voice] I’m not obsessed with records and anyone who says I am is lying.
ROB: There’s shunters and steam trains ...
BEN: Some have 24 carriages - or longer!
RICH: Well, yeah.
ROB: You’ve been sent, amongst other things, the pants of a viewer’s parents for inclusion in the gall-ery. What’s the strangest thing you’ve received via the Royal Mail?
STEW: Um, a list of sketch ideas, sent anonymously, which involved extreme pornographic situations and incredible bad language ... so much so that it was quite frightening.
RICH: We’ve had so many weird things. Um, hair ... skin ... rotten food.
STEW: A banana advent calendar that had gone off, very smelly.
BEN: Do you ever have mad thoughts?
STEW: ‘Mad thoughts’ came out of having mad thoughts. The other day, we were in a restaurant, and there was a huge cake on the table there, and Rich had to actually go outside because he was so possessed with the idea of smashing it in my face. The thing is, I’d have really laughed if he’d have done it.
RICH: You wonder what would happen if you were at your girlfriend’s parents’ house, and you’re eating dinner, and you say something like "Fuck, this is shit!" - something really potent and freeing and crossing the boundaries. Well, it’s madness.
STEW: Where ‘mad thoughts’ came from was when we were first on the radio, Pete was on stage at Exeter Polytechnic or somewhere. There were all these little kids in the front row, and Pete suddenly thought about ...
RICH: Throwing glass in their faces!
STEW: ... really hurting them. What would people do? It would suddenly, like, spoil the whole thing.
RICH: They’re mad thoughts, and if you do them, you’re mad. Is it still going? [bangs the tape recorder with a big rubber hammer.]
ROB: Do you feel ashamed at making Maurice Mitchener a laughing stock amongst his playschool friends?
RICH: No, as you’ll see in the show tonight.
STEW: I can’t imagine they’ve heard about it yet.
RICH: We’ve had a couple of phone complaints, saying it’s disgusting for a 28-year old man to ridicule a 3 year old ... but that was the point, it was just me doing it, and Stew was ridiculing me. In the show, I say things like, "I hope he dies. I hate him and I hope he dies". It’s gone down to mixed reactions so far.
BEN: Do you have any vices, and if so, what are your favourites?
STEW: I really like drinking.
RICH: Chocolate ... eating ... masturbating ... drinking. Thinking of drink and masturbating.
ROB: Do you lead a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle?
STEW: When a really little thing happens, just nothing, we all go: "A HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!! LOOK!!!"
RICH: Last tour, our tour manager’s sunglasses fell off the dashboard in the van.
ROB: Did they break?
RICH: No. That’s about as rock ‘n’ roll as it gets. And we’re all kind of trying to diet.
ROB: Do BBC2 comedians get many groupies?
RICH: Um, don’t know, really. I don’t know what you mean by groupies. We get, kind of, fans who write. Sometimes we get sexual letters, you know, with a phone number, and you imagine ringing up and saying: "About this blow job. Where shall I meet you?" They’d be quite surprised. I think people who like us like us ‘cause we’re funny. But, we’re men. We like girls.
ROB: What was it like to work with the real Rod Hull?
STEW: Slightly embarrassing, at first. We thought he’d think it was just a piss-take, which it wasn’t. It was just basically, like, a bloke, who had chosen to look like him, an impostor, in order to get jelly. But we had a really great week with him, talking about all the things he’d done, so it was all right.
STEW: And he was pleased to get the work, you know.
RICH: [screeching] I AM ROD HULL!!
STEW: And he doesn’t really speak like that. RICH: When they were actually standing together on TV, and I go: "Oh, my God - it’s a mirror!" They look so different.
We went on to ask what they had in the pipeline - they told us about Cluub Zarathustra, shagging in caves, a film about blokes in a jungle etc. which you can read about in a more up-to-date form elsewhere on the Net. We’d like to say "Cheers!" to Rich & Stew for talking to us, and for giving Ben a free ticket to the show. Such gents! We could take them home to our mums. But there’s nothing funny about that.