Richard Herring’s interview podcast, known to the cool kids as RHLSTP (as any regular listener will know), is usually recorded in London’s glittering West End at the Leicester Square Theatre, but now it’s going on the road and it’s coming to Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre on 19 September.
We caught up with ‘The Podfather’ (The Guardian) to find out more about the tour.
How does it feel to be taking the podcast on tour?
It’s awesome. The podcast has been going for over seven years and has listeners all over the world, so it’s great to take it nearer to some of them and people really seem to appreciate being able to buy a ticket to “pay me back” for the hours of free entertainment.
For those who aren’t familiar with the podcast, can you sum up what they can expect?
There’s about 250 of them available on line, so it’s probably a better idea for everyone to have a listen to one (with a guest they like) to see if it’s their thing. And it’s actually fairly unpredictable anyway. Sometimes it’s all jokes, sometimes it’s mainly serious, sometimes it’s a fairly straight forward interview, sometimes it spirals off into weird areas. I tend to ask slightly different questions to other interviewers and concentrate on less well known things from the guest’s CV. It does seem to be a very entertaining two hours in a theatre whatever happens though. I am getting a lot of positive feedback.
The podcast has previously been quite a headline maker, what are some of the moments that have had the most impact for you?
Obviously the Stephen Fry interview was the first time I realised that a podcast had the scope to make headlines around the world within hours of going online. It was an electric night of entertainment, even without his revelation that he’d recently attempted suicide. The most impressive thing was that none of the 400 strong audience even tweeted about it. Terry Hall also had some startling revelations and Adrian Chiles seemed very keen to unburden himself of some stuff that I hadn’t even got close to asking him about. Les Dennis’ openness also made for an amazing interview. It’s at its best when the guest doesn’t care what people think any more and is ready to be honest.
You’ll be having different guests throughout the tour and in Leicester they include Jenny Eclair and local favourite, Grace Petrie, what do you consider when choosing who to have on with you?
I only have guests that I admire or personally like. It’s also fairly important that I think they are up to the not insignificant challenge of talking in front of an audience without a script or any idea what’s coming next. I generally want people I think will be funny, but it doesn’t always have to be the case. I am somewhat limited by the fact that I book this myself and usually need to be able to personally contact the guest. And then they also have to want to do it. I am surprised that most people do want to do it. But on tour especially it’s sometimes tricky to find someone who is local and available on the right day. And up for doing it.
Are there any dream guests that you’d like to interview on the podcast in the future?
Michael Palin (or any of the Pythons), Chris Morris, Billy Connolly – I have tried to get all of them, but so far no luck.
You’ve been dubbed the “Best celeb interviewer in Britain” but what are some of the challenges that come along with the role?
This is one of the funnest jobs I’ve ever had. The only really bad bit usually is trying to book the thing. I try not to worry too much about anything or analyse it too much. It’s about maintaining a balance of being funny and being prepared to take risks to gently mock the guest, but also provide an atmosphere in which they feel comfortable enough to open up. By being open and honest myself and slightly awkward by accident or design, I usually manage it. But it’s not something I plan too much, so you are working from your instincts. You just have to listen and keep alert. It’s very very tiring because you need to concentrate very hard and be ready to work out what the guest will talk about and what will cause them to clam up.
On a personal level what are you most looking forward to on the tour?
It’s very exciting to be playing bigger theatres than I usually would and the ones that are rammed full should be very exciting. But the whole job is just a delight, as well as the only social life I have now. So catching up with friends and getting to chat to some of the funniest people in the country should be good. I can’t believe my luck that this has worked out the way that it has.
Sum up in 5 words why people should book a ticket to come along.
Because they want to. Motherfuckers. (I had an extra word).