- "Stewart Lee would never do this."YouTube user KneejerkHateMachine
As It Occurs To Me (AIOTM (aiotm)) is a sketch and stand-up show by comedian Richard Herring. It ran for three series, plus four specials, between 2009 and 2011. During its first three series, it was recorded weekly in front of a live audience, usually at the Leicester Square Theatre in London, then released unedited as a podcast. (It is still available for free from the British Comedy Guide.)
Emma Kennedy and Dan Tetsell co-star, with Christian Reilly providing music and the occasional extra voice. Each episode's material is based on Herring's experiences and musings of the preceding week - things which 'occur' to him, as in things that happen to him, but also as in things he thinks of. Get it? Despite this, the ultimate reality of the show is less topical than it is a surreal and self-contained universe of recurring characters and in-jokes.
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the show returned in 2016 for a series of six video episodes of the show, which would be recorded live and promoted with a series of six monthly audio podcasts in the style of the first three series.
Regular features include:
- If I Could Turn Back Time - a sketch in which Richard relives an encounter from the week, but behaves differently
- The Moral Maze - introduced in S3, this feature singles out a morally dubious action from Richard's week and asks the live audience to pass judgement
- A (sometimes) topical song from Christian Reilly
- Audience interaction in which members of the public share what has occurred to them in the week
- One-star iTunes reviews of the show (or other negative online comments) set to music by Christian
This podcast contains examples of the following tropes:
- Anxiety Dreams: Before recording the first episode, Richard dreamt that Stewart Lee would arrive to take over the show and relegate him to sitting at the back of the stage, drumming on the floor with his hands.
- Audience Participation Song: Christian incorporated the "AIOTM / aiotm" call-and-response into his song for the finale.
- Big Bad: Tiny Andrew Collings turns into this for S2. See also...
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Tiny Collingses in S2, with plenty of Parental Incest.
- Bonus Material: Each live show began with a stand-up set by Richard, which was not usually made freely available, but many of which are for sale on CD.
- The name of the show itself. At every mention of the forced acronym AIOTM (pronounced "A-I-ot-uh-muh"), the audience must shout "AIOTM" in response. This is so ingrained that it happens even when it interferes with the flow of the show, and if an actor wants to avoid a fuss, they sometimes simply say the acronym twice in quick succession.
- Tiny Andrew Collings constantly prefacing his two-faced asides with the word "aside." He also says "sotto voce" aloud, and "Be quiet, you people in the crowd saying those things."
- "Please let me be on telly, I just want to be on the telly [be on the radio, win an award etc.]" - one of Richard's catchphrases, not limited to AIOTM (aiotm), and sometimes adapted by other characters. Christian actually used it for the hook of his topical song in S3E3.
- Susan Boyle's "I am not mental!" Her character is also associated with the word 'clackerlackerdackdack,' which appears in other contexts too.
- Pippa Middleton's disembodied anus signs off with "I am anus, hear me roar!" followed by a long fart noise.
- I mean come on, seriously, it's the 21st Century.
- King Herod thinks he's a recurring character whose catchphrase is "Good luck to England against Slovenia," which is sort of true, but only because he keeps pushing it.
- Lembit Opik's "You do the [gerund] and I'll do the jokes."
- Occasional references to Lee and Herring catchphrases. They're all [adjective] by the time I'm finished with them...
- The Chessmaster: In the third special, it's revealed that Richard himself is just a fictional character, created fifteen years earlier by scientist Ben Goldacre as part of a convoluted plan to sell Christmas cake.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Notably, Richard thinks it would be the peak of hilarity to shove his girlfriend into a large body of water.
- Crossover: Each appearance of Andrew Collins is arguably a crossover with the Collings and Herrin podcast.
- Especially Zoidberg: Deconstructed thus:Ben Goldacre: Every line has been planned in advance, every sketch written years ago!
Richard: What, even the Motorcycle Clothing Shop?
Ben Goldacre: Especially the Motorcycle Clothing Shop.
Richard: Especially? What, it was more written than the other ones that were also written? What, did you write it in bold or something?
Ben Goldacre: Italic.
- Funny Foreigner: Parodied in reference to Mind Your Language. Played straight with e.g. deliberately bad Scottish and Canadian accents.
- Future Me Scares Me / I Hate Past Me: When Richard travels back to his own childhood, adult Rich is embarrassed by his young self's crude and racist sense of humour, while young Rich is appalled by his old, fat and weird future.
- It Was All A Dream: The first episode of S3 reveals that the Ben Goldacre reveal in the final autumn special was a dream.
- Kavorka Man: Richard's depiction of himself flickers between this and Casanova Wannabe.
- Mental Time Travel: The 'If I Could Turn Back Time' segment. This is clearly distinct from the 'If I Could Travel Back In Time' segment, which involves present-day Richard actually travelling in a time machine.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: When Dan was first called upon to play Andrew Collins in a sketch, he used a highly distinctive voice, completely unlike the real Andrew Collins. Over time, the depiction became less and less realistic; in S2 it was given its own name, Tiny Andrew Collings. When a genuinely offended Andrew asked Richard to retire the increasingly outrageous character, Richard insisted that it had evolved beyond a parody into an original character in its own right. Nevertheless, he reluctantly scaled it back in S3.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: More often than not, in fact. Especially for Dan and Emma's Canadian couple, and Richard's impression of Tam Dalyell.
- Putting the Band Back Together: Emma, Dan and Christian were all formerly regulars on Richard's BBC Radio 2 show, That Was Then This Is Now (TWTTIN (twttin)).
- Running Gag: Almost - but not quite - too many to list.
- Many features of Richard's ongoing relationship with his double act partner, Andrew Collins, were carried across between the two podcasts. Most notably, mispronouncing "Collins" as "Collings" and verbally abusing/making outlandishly terrible accusations against Andrew's family. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Andrew's genuine distress at these jokes soon became a running joke in itself.
- Richard also jokes about and displays exaggerated bitterness toward his former double act partner, Stewart Lee.
- A poorly-made and overlong roulette wheel sound effect which Richard downloaded for free for the first episode. It recurred in every episode of S1, and sporadically after that.
- Cumpkins. It's minted cumpkins now, granddad. Also the short-lived dumpkins.
- Richard likes to invite women back to his house and make them dance while he sits in a high-backed armchair and masturbates onto a semi-circular toilet mat.
- Richard's girlfriend is either real or fictional, depending on who you listen to, but either way he wants to push her into a lake.
- Characters in a sketch becoming self-aware, breaking the fourth wall, and even rebelling against their creator.
- Emma tells poo stories, Christian tells unfunny stories, and there are only two things about Dan: Basil Brush and the Nazis. (A third thing was later added involving anal dildos.) Perhaps that's why they were only paid £85.11 each per episode.
- Ben Goldacre's Christmas cake obsession.
- Biscuits for breakfast? What's next, marmalade for lunch?
- A naughty dog did it. Also, later, it's all Sue's fault.
- The audience are regularly mocked for all being nerdy, overweight, unattractive men who work in IT.
- The Motorcycle Clothing Shop Sketch, which Richard refused to let go of until it got the reception he felt it deserved.
- Richard getting mistaken for Charlie Boorman, the guy who motorcycled around the world with Ewan McGregor.
- Self-Deprecation: The performers are always ready to deride the show for being slapdash, repetitive, convoluted and puerile. Richard doesn't always draw a clear line between himself and his lecherous, pathetic, borderline insane stand-up persona.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Although little of Richard's work deals directly with time travel, he has often revealed his pedantic obsession with tropes and inconsistencies in time travel stories. In the last episode, his future self travels back in time to warn him of a world ruled by Morcocks (they have three more cocks than a Morlock). Perhaps more horribly, AIOTM has been running for decades, and is reduced to the Motorcycle Clothing Shop Sketch over and over again on a loop. If Richard ends the series by putting a cumpkin on his head, the humiliation will be enough to prevent him from making another - but in doing so he somehow fertilises his own head, giving birth to the Morcocks in the first place. It really doesn't make sense.