Herring's comedy has included standup, comedy plays, radio comedy and several TV shows. Herring has worked with a number of other comedians, including Ben Moor as part of the double act Herring and Spaz, and with Stewart Lee, as part of Lee and Herring. Other notable works include the radio series, That Was Then, This Is Now and various live shows including the acclaimed Talking Cock and the resulting book of the same name. He has also had a successful collaboration with Andrew Collins who worked with him on the radio comedy series Banter; and hosted Herring on Collins' 6Music show; and a well reviewed podcast.
Herring was born in Yorkshire but grew up in Cheddar, Somerset, and was educated at St. Catherine's College, Oxford, where he wrote and performed for a comic troupe known as the Seven Raymonds as well as the Fringe favourites the Oxford Revue.
With Stewart Lee, Herring wrote material for Chris Morris and Armando Iannucci's On the Hour (1991). It was during this time that the duo came up with the initial concept for the character Alan Partridge. In 1992 and 1993, they wrote and performed Lionel Nimrod's Inexplicable World for Radio 4. For Radio 1, they wrote and performed one series of Fist of Fun (1993), which was later remade for television. They also hosted a series on Radio 1 in 1994 and 1995, simply called Lee and Herring. A final television partnership with Lee, This Morning With Richard Not Judy, was a victim of BBC management reshuffles.
Since cordially ending his informal partnership with Stewart Lee, Herring has written and performed thought-provoking one-man shows to critical acclaim. Most noteworthy of these shows was Talking Cock – released as a book in 2003 – which The Guardian described as "man's answer to The Vagina Monologues." Like Patrick Marber (a long-standing rival who was described as "curmudgeonly" or "a cornish curmudgeon" in Fist of Fun), he has also written and produced several plays.
Richard co-wrote and presented the history based sketch show That Was Then, This Is Now (Or TWTTIN), a 6 part series produced for Radio 2. A second series was commissioned and aired in September and October 2006. On the broadcast of 2 September, he urged listeners to edit Wikipedia's Mother Teresa entry to suggest that she grew up with the middle name "Gonk". It took a whole 3 months before someone carried out his dastardly plan, although his own page had been edited in the same manner within days of the broadcast.
A third series of the show began broadcast on 29 November 2007.
He has also written for television, most notably penning a large portion of Al Murray's sitcom vehicle, Time Gentlemen Please, on which Stewart Lee worked as script editor. Herring has also contributed to the third series of Matt Lucas and David Walliams' popular TV sketch show, Little Britain, as script editor.
On 25 November 2002 Herring started his blog Warming Up as a way to overcome writer's block. He has kept the blog updated regularly ever since and as of 30 September 2008 has not missed a single day. It is estimated that he has a regular readership of over 3000. Some of the ideas from Warming Up were used in his 2005 Edinburgh show Someone Likes Yoghurt, his 2006 Edinburgh show ménage à un and his 2007 Edinburgh show Oh Fuck, I'm 40!.
In 2005 he presented a chat show called Heads Up with Richard Herring on Pokerzone (Sky ) in which he interviewed professional poker players and celebrities about their careers and their love of the game. There were ten episodes in total.
Richard also made weekly appearances on Andrew Collins' BBC 6 Music radio show on Saturday afternoons, where the two would discuss the weeks papers. He occasionally hosted the show in Collins' absence and joined him for the whole of his final show on 31 March 2007. Herring is also a panellist on BBC Radio 4 gameshow Banter, which is presented by Collins.
In January 2007 Richard's live stand-up show Someone Likes Yoghurt was filmed in Cardiff and released on DVD on May 16th by the independent distributor Go Faster Stripe. A recording of an earlier show, The 12 Tasks of Hercules Terrace, was released on 5 March 2007. Richard returned to Cardiff in June 2007 to film his third DVD, ménage à un. This DVD was released on 19 December 2007. He recorded "Oh Fuck, I'm 40" on March 21st 2008. It will be released towards the end of the year.
In February 2007, filming began on Herring's new comedy drama You Can Choose Your Friends. As well as writing the script, Richard also plays one of the characters alongside Gordon Kennedy, Claire Skinner, Rebecca Front, Sarah-Jane Potts, Robert Daws, Anton Rogers and Julia McKenzie. The show was broadcast on ITV1 on 7 June 2007.
In January 2008 he began producing the Collings and Herrin podcast with Andrew Collins, on which he regularly jokes that he wants to bum Andrew, and can also be heard currently on Radio 4 with Collins, in the show Banter.
His new show for 2008, 'The Headmaster's Son' earned critical respect with his four 5 star reviews and several 4 star reviews. The set covers his experience growing up in a school in Somerset where his father works as headmaster and how this may have encouraged him to make puerile jokes. The show was seen by critics as a thoughtful look at his upbringing, and his relationship with his father, to whom the show is dedicated. It follows a similar vein to Andrew Collins' work where he often looks back at his past and in particular his childhood.
In September 2008 he was the fundamental contributor to the "Catherine Tate How To Write Comedy" guide – part of the "How to Write" guide-series, offered as a supplement with the Guardian and Observer broadsheets. Tate's actual contribution to the guide, it transpires, only amounted to writing the two page introduction. This was a point of discussion in the "Collings and Herrin" podcast released prior to publication of the guide, and in the subsequent podcast following its publication.
Amateur video of a stand-up routine derailed by a heckler was mounted on You Tube and as been viewed by more than 150,000 people. In Warming Up, Herring noted ruefully that this was more than had ever seen him perform his prepared material.
When Stewart Lee pointed out that it would be easier just to say that his ideal woman was Julia Sawalha, Richard added "No, Stew, you're not listening. I said the head of Julia Sawalha and the body of Julia Sawalha. I said nothing about them being attached."
Herring and former partner Lee share a number of jokes. Both use the forename "Ian" whenever an arbitrary name is required in the construction of a joke. Both have referred in their solo acts to the September 11th terrorist attacks as "11/9", in an attempt to reassert the primacy of the British idiomatic form of date abbreviation. Both have implied on stage that they might be Jesus, though are also quick to assert that they do not claim to be the Messiah but rather it is for the audience to decide. Incongruously, both have also described encounters with Christ: Herring has referred to a prolonged courtship that culminated in genital stigmatic penetration; whereas Lee's visitation was transitory and involved the avatar's rectum functioning as a vessel for the entertainer's emetic ebullience. Both engage in meta-comedy but also choose to subvert the pretensions of this device; in consequence, they enter into a spiral of self awareness and further amusement. Following from all these comedic preoccupations both Herring and Lee frequently berate their audience- or sections therein- for not understanding the subtle, satirical, ironic and generally sophisticated foundations of their humour.