Lee & Herring Press

"The Comedy Lounge" Feature

"You want the moooooon on a stick!"

The first time I saw the trailer for new comedy sketch show Fist of Fun, I was somewhat taken aback by the hosts' appearances. Having only heard their dulcet tones on the radio, and having no access to the world wide interweb, or London's early '90s stand up comedy circuit, I had only my imagination and the first two series of their BBC Radio 1 show to build up a picture of Messrs Lee and Herring. And, suddenly, there they bounced before my eyes. Rich did not look a thing like I had imagined. Stew, on the other hand, looked exactly as I had imagined. Although I hadn't bargained for the appearance of a waist coat.

Fist of Fun started in April 1995, appearing for six short weeks on BBC2 on a Tuesday evening, and later reappeared for a second series in February 1996 on a Friday night. Described by the hosts as a strange hybrid of 'Why Don't You?' and ideas stolen from The Goodies, it followed the style already set by their Radio 1 Lee and Herring's Fist of Fun series.

Essentially a sketch show, with the added complication of two "unemployed, unemployable twenty somethings" standing about talking about the things that concerned them. Fist of Fun stood out from other comedy shows at the time with the original twist of being childishly smug, and introducing bizarre new phrases to the world at large. Who would ever have thought that the accusation of wanting the Moon On A Stick could ever become so popular?

Rich: Aaaaaaaaaaahh!!
Stew: It's not an aaaaaahh situation!!
Rich: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh!!

Fist of Fun brought to the attention of the world the characters of 'Rich' and 'Stew', extensions of the performers' true personalities, but with certain traits highly exaggerated. Rich was the innocent abroad, with his Zummerzet sensibilities leaving him confused at the strange new world around him. Stew was the world weary cynic, forever dampening Rich's enthusiasm.

Throughout the first series, Lee and Herring would begin the show by leaping out of wooden crates, creating an exciting illusion of youth and atmosphere, and setting up the possibility that, say, one episode PJ and Duncan could jump out of them instead. Which, one episode, they did. The first series of Fist of Fun featured the regular appearance of The Gall-ery, a bit like something Tony Hart would do, but with the twist that it was all mildly disturbing things sent in by viewers and listeners to their Radio 1 show. Other regular elements of the first series were the Listings that appeared at the end of each episode as well as blip verts appearing throughout the show, pointing out continuity errors, or giving away production secrets, ensuring that you truly knackered your video player by the end of the series. Other ingredients included Patrick Marber baiting, and the attempt to popularise the adjective "cornish".

Rich: Comedy is a bitch magnet
Stew: Although the polarity of your bitch magnet seems to have been reversed.

The second series followed fast on the footsteps of the first, as the decision from the BBC to give them a second series, was only relayed to Lee and Herring in late November 1995. As the series went on air in February 1996, this gave them only three months to write another six shows. A new set arrived with the new series, leaving the cluttered student image behind, but other than that, it was business as usual. The shows were recorded on a Thursday night, being broadcast the following evening to allow for 'topical' material, although the topical were on things you could get from a calendar, rather than biting Rory Bremner type satiiiire, coming from Rich's topic eye (Stew: "And which eye's that, then?" Rich: "This one here. My roving satirical eye.") Each show was tightly packed, although the blip verts were less common due to the time restrictions, and the gall-ery and Patrick Marber baiting disappeared completely.

Many of the sketches in Fist of Fun, particularly in the second series, originated from their preceding radio shows, predominantly from Radio 1's Fist of Fun, but also from Lionel Nimrod. This lead to the oft-cited accusation that Lee and Herring were better on the radio. However, this claim is mainly oft-cited by Lee and Herring fans deliberately trying to irritate Richard Herring.

"That's right, I said Fuck. In front of myself."

Many of the sketches included recurring characters, such as the Two Very Different Teachers (Mr Kennedy, played by Lee, and 'Twatty' Harris, played with great affection by Herring). In the episode of Teachers shown in Show 4 of the second series, Mr Kennedy said the f-word, proving he was both big and clever. However, this was bleeped by the BBC. A blip vert was added, which read "The 'F' word was censored out of this film by the BBC Swearing Department despite the fact that it has extra attention drawn to it by bleeping it out anyway. If you would like to be sent a photo of Stew with a false beard drawn on him and a speech bubble of the 'F' word coming out of his mouth, write to us and we'll post you one at the BBC's expense."
As it turned out, two hundred and seven people wrote in.

"Sans arm, sans chin, sans jelly, sans everything!"
The Actor Kevin Eldon also played a major part in both series, appearing as Lord of All Hobbies, Simon Quinlank, and jelly loving Rod Hull. At the end of the second series, there was a show down between the 'real' Rod Hull and the real Rodney Stephen Hull, making for a magic screen moment when the 'real' Rod Hull was unmasked for the charlatan he really was. Peter Baynham appeared in both series as Peter, the 31 year old unemployed Welsh virgin who now lives in Balham. Peter brought all kind of things to the show, like his guide to life, or some new receipe ideas, like the world famous summer snack Chicken Lollies. He also brought some friends with him, like Donny Odd-legs (who Rich accidentally-on-purpose set fire to), Alan Milk Carton Body, and his rat, John Menzies. He once performed the lambada.

Fist of Fun was once described by a viewer who took the time to ring the BBC as "the most puerile nonsense I've ever seen. It's ridiculous." Fist of Fun is also our favourite television programme of all time ever.
We like Fist of Fun.
Source - The Comedy Lounge