Lee and Herring
were a British
standup comedy double act
consisting of the comedians Stewart Lee
and Richard Herring
. They were probably most famous for their work on television
, most notably Fist of Fun
and This Morning With Richard Not Judy
but have been working together on stage and on radio
since the 1980s.
As with many double acts, Lee and Herring performed as contrasting personalities: one intellectual and rational (Lee) and the other daft and charming (Herring). As with several other double acts, Lee and Herring had a certain irony to their style and constantly checked themselves and made reference to this. The characters of Lee and Herring were parodies and exaggerations of their real world selves.
Lee and Herring first met at a party while they were studying at Oxford University
. Lee had been performing comedy on the circuit for a short while and had heard that Herring had begun doing similar so he introduced himself. Lee once remarked that one of the reasons they decided to work as a double act was that they found the title "Lee and Herring"'s resemblance to worcestershire sauce
brand Lea & Perrins
At Oxford, Lee and Herring performed in a regular comedy revue called The Seven Raymonds, which also included the material and performance of Emma Kennedy, Michael Cosgrave and Tim Richardson.
Together they wrote material for Chris Morris' On The Hour (1991). However, a management conflict meant that the duo were not involved in the television version, The Day Today, and that their material was edited out of the official BBC audio releases of On The Hour.
In 1992 and 1993, they wrote and performed Lionel Nimrod's Inexplicable World for BBC Radio 4. For BBC Radio 1, they wrote and performed one series of Fist of Fun (1993), which was later remade for television and would pave the way for their mainstream fame. Fist of Fun made several subtle references to their dislike for former colleague Patrick Marber. Lee and Herring fell out with the On The Hour team after a row over ownership of characters that they invented. Patrick Marber has claimed that he invented the character of news reporter Peter O'Hanrahahanrahan. Lee and Herring actually invented the character, as mentioned on a text box in Fist of Fun's first series.
After the radio version of Fist of Fun, they presented another Radio 1 show running for 3 series, simply entitled Lee and Herring (but often referred to as Lee & Herring's Radio One Music Show) which featured a mixture of records chosen by the duo themselves, and their usual sketches and chat.
Their final major work as a double-act was This Morning With Richard Not Judy (TMWRNJ), which aired on Sunday mornings on BBC Two for series in 1998 and 1999, and was famous for being strikingly risky and adventurous.
Break-up and further work
Lee and Herring went their separate ways at the end of the 1990s and have both enjoyed major fringe and mainstream successes. Stewart Lee co-created Jerry Springer - The Opera
, directed Attention Scum!
for Simon Munnery
and wrote a novel called The Perfect Fool
. Richard Herring has written, performed and toured with a number of successful comedy shows including Christ on a Bike
, Talking Cock
and Someone Likes Yoghurt
. He also wrote and co-created the sitcom, Time Gentlemen Please
and script-edited the third series of Little Britain
. Most recently, Herring hosted the 2005 celebrity chat show Heads Up with Richard Herring
. Lee and Herring both still work in radio and media.
Occasionally, Lee and Herring regroup for one-off occasions. Recent collaborations included an interview together for The Guardian and a 2005 review of each other's work for the arts supplement of The Sunday Times. The pair performed a short double act at London's Bloomsbury Theatre on 5th February 2007 as part of a tribute to stand-up comedian Ted Chippington.
Lee and Herring frequently re-used material in new shows which they had used in previous shows, frequently re-using their radio material on their later television shows. Their many idiosyncrasies of style and language also recurred frequently, including:
- Lee introducing himself very briefly and Herring very elaborately ("My given name is Richard Herring" and similar phrases);
- Deliberately childish mispronunciations of various words and names, especially "badmington", "skellington" and "John Majors" (inevitably succeeded by "Tony Blairs");
- Herring's constant mocking of Morris Mitchener, a small child he read about in a local newspaper article, and started a campaign to berate;
- Addressing people by descriptive titles, used as if they were their names, (eg "The Girl Who Smelt of Spam" or "Geoffrey from Rainbow").
- Characters supposedly very interested in certain things praising them in extremely lukewarm terms, often with the words "quite good";
- Herring's obsessive and unrequited love interests, including Julia Sawalha and Andrea Corr (and loathing for the rest of The Corrs, particularly the "Man Corr");
- Frequent parodies and satires of religion (Lee being a member of the National Secular Society and British Humanist Association);
- Frequent references to minor celebrities (such as Dale Winton).
- Herring's obssesion with milk and the different animals he would claim you could get it from.
- Frequent use of the word 'whore'.
- Lee & Herring's Fist of Fun (1995) BBC Books