Fist of Fun
- Brian Donaldson
- 28 February 2012
Stewart Lee and Richard Herring's debut TV appearance given a DVD outing
‘It’s not as good as I remembered’. Thus sprach Stewart Lee about the first series of Fist of Fun, the BBC Two show which first introduced the bequiffed comic and Richard Herring, his cohort of many years, to a TV audience. While it might not be consistently gut-bustingly hilarious, it’s certainly a worthy purchase for any admirer of the pair’s trajectory from fresh-faced 90s double act to the somewhat curmudgeonly indie godfathers of British stand-up they are today.
Some familiar traits can be glimpsed, from Lee’s knowing coolness and aloof intellectualism to Herring’s sex-fascinated rural naivety and intense obsession on trivialities. Perhaps more surprising is the large number of gut-churning scenes such as Alistair McGowan and Ronni Ancona as modern-day vampires, the Oscar-nominated Peter Baynham as their regular grime-encrusted guest, and a corpse being chewed by dogs.
Just after Fist of Fun took to the small screens in early 1995, The Fast Show began its TV sketch show domination; the only thing close to catchphrases here are ‘that’s them off the telly’ or ‘now what I think you’d done there Rich, is you’ve confused … ’
Anyone who has bought either of their live DVDs or visited a Richard Herring gig with its lovingly-crafted programme will know how much store they put in the concept of extras. And it’s the same here, with excellent commentaries, a summer chat between the pair in Herring’s garden and footage of them playing live in 1995.
Richard Herring, The Stand, Edinburgh, Wed 21 Mar; The Garage, Glasgow, Thu 22 Mar; Stewart Lee, King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Fri 23 Mar.