See Rainer Hersch at Petworth Festival

Petworth Festival Join the Rainer Hersch Orkestra and no less that three top comedians at Petworth Festival’s headline open air comedy event with ‘Comedy in The Stables’ on Friday 21 July.

Not only is Rainer Hersch a brilliant comedian but he is also a genius musician. With his very own Orkestra of madcap virtuosi, he brings games, stand- up comedy and Rainer’s unique reworking of classics from Tchaikovsky to Titanic. All this delivers a genuinely unforgettable evening of laughter and superb music.

One of the top comedians sharing the bill with Rainer is Hal Cruttenden. As well as being a highly accomplished writer and actor’s performed on The John Bishop Show (BBC1) and Live at the Apollo (BBC1 and 2), The Melbourne Comedy Festival Gala on Channel 10 Australia as well as making a second appearance on Have I Got News For You (BBC1). He has also frequently been seen on Great British Bake Off – Extra Slice (BBC2). ‘One of the funniest comics on the circuit’ (Time Out)

‘You’ll never see another show quite like this’ (Edinburgh Evening News)

Opening the evening are warm up sets from Kieran Hodgson – whose show ‘Maestro’ hit the headlines at Edinburgh Fringe 2016 ‘This could well be THE show of the Fringe.’ ***** (The Telegraph); and English Actor, Writer and Stand-up Comedian Toby Hadoke, Chortle Award Winner and BBC Audio Awards Finalist Toby is well known for his work on BBC Radio and on the Manchester comedy circuit, ‘Superior stand-up skills – very, very funny’ (The Guardian)

Rainer Hersch Orkestra

Fabulous hot food will be provided by Badgers of Coultershaw and hot drinks by the Vintage Coffee Company – and of course there’s a bar as well.

Comedy in the Stables
with the Rainer Hersch Orkestra
Friday 21 July at 6pm
Petworth House Stables, 151 Whites Green Lodge, Petworth, GU28 9BD
Tickets: £26 (18 and under: £5)
Unreserved seating

Click here to book tickets

Rainer Hersch and the Festivals Circuit

The UK is alive with festivals. Festivals of performing arts, literature, visual arts and outdoor arts snd even science. These range from the the large international cultural events, such as the Edinburgh International Festival through to small dynamic festivals in towns and villages across the land.

Rainer Hersch is no stranger to performing at festivals of all shapes and sizes. Here he tells us about some of him more unusual encounters…

A percussionist friend of mine told me about a performance he did of Tchaikovsky 1812 overture in a ‘muddy field’ (musicians-speak for any outdoor festival stage).  Wanting to create a bit of atmosphere, he suspended the bells for the final bit from some trees.  Off they went for dinner but, when they came back for the performance, darkness had fallen. Despite much searching they couldn’t even find the bells let alone play them!

Outdoor summer festival

 Summer Festivals just used to be a way of filling musicians’ diaries when the concert season, September to June, was closed.  Now some people just do festivals and avoid everything else.

Edinburgh Festival

 I’ve done Edinburgh Festival 13 times.  It seems like a very inauspicious number at which to stop.  Should have been 12 or 14 or something.  I almost went back up there with the Orkestra this year just to restore my karma.

Barbados Festival

I have twice done a festival in Barbados and once in the Cayman Islands.  People always ask if my wife comes with me when I am performing.  Hardly ever.  The only times I can remember are: twice in Barbados and once in the Cayman Islands.  Strange that…!

Orchestra in Cathedral

About 25 years ago, I was involved in a summer tour in which we performed with orchestra in cathedrals.  Nice spectacle but terrible to listen to, cathedrals being so echoey.  Actually, I am pretty sure some of those concerts are still going on – bouncing around the belfry or something.

Rainer’s next Festival performance with be at the Petworth Festival on 21 July with the Rainer Hersch Orkestra of madcap virtuosi. With games, stand- up comedy and Rainer’s reworking of classics from Tchaikovsky to Titanic, they genuinely deliver an unforgettable evening of laughter and superb music.

‘You’ll never see another show quite like this’
Edinburgh Evening News

Comedy in Germany???

If you think this title is a contradiction in terms, Rainer Hersch begs to differ so read on…

Contrary to comic lore (and a good few of my gags) the Germans have actually got a sense of humour. In fact, the biggest gigs I have ever done have been in Germany. And it’s not the slapstick ‘man-gets-hit-in-the-face-with-a-fish’ comedy of legend either – Germans prefer philosophers to farce.

On stage in front of 7,000 at the Max-Schmeling-Halle, Berlin

On stage in front of 7,000 at the Max-Schmeling-Halle, Berlin

So, where did their notoriety as ‘the land without laughter’ come from? Frankly, I think it is probably just part of our caricaturing following [ahem] one or two episodes in recent history. Those blond-haired, blue-eyed members of the Hitler Youth are smiling alright but it’s not at knock, knock jokes.

Then there is ‘Dinner For One’ – loved and lauded by German-speaking audiences wherever they may be found and now the most repeated TV programme EVER, ANYWHERE. You don’t know about ‘Dinner For One’? Not surprising, because, although it is performed in English, it is almost unknown amongst English speakers.

Do you know Hitler’s favourite knock, knock joke by the way? “Knock, knock” “Who’s there?” “I WILL ASK THE QUESTIONS!”

‘Dinner For One’ is an 11-minute TV sketch, filmed in black and white in which an elderly lady celebrates her 90th birthday aided by her butler. Unfortunately, with the passing of the years, all the lady’s guests have died off leaving the butler to impersonate them, toasting her one by one and gradually getting more and more pissed. You can watch it here:

Yes, it’s in English alright and the actors involved made absolutely no concession to their foreign audience – the butler, for example, speaks with a gruff northern accent. Accordingly I am pretty sure that the German audiences that guffaw over it every New Years Eve (that’s the tradition) don’t fully understand the text. What they do understand however is a sloshed character continually tripping over the head of a tiger skin, stretched out on the floor and the sketch’s catchphrase “same procedure as last year” “same procedure as every year”. (Note that ‘procedure’ has a German equivalent ‘Prozedur’, which is why this moderately complicated bit of vocabulary is understood at all).

Maybe it’s the comic skill that does it for them and there is plenty of that on offer in most German entertainment. Skill of any kind is definitely appreciated. And they know their music. Perhaps that’s why a guy who turns up conducting an orchestra, playing the piano and (I hope) being witty about it ticks the boxes. Oh, and it also helps to speak the lingo, which I do (German Dad, German Missis).

With Berthold Brecht in Berlin. He's the one looking slightly more natural.

With Berthold Brecht in Berlin. He’s the one looking slightly more natural.

So don’t believe the rumours, comedy is alive and well in Germany. And, so they say, their are quite a lot of Italians pay their taxes, at least a handful of Dutch people who can’t stand clogs and three Russians who aren’t in the Mafia. Now that does sound like the start of a joke…

Otto Waalkes

Otto Waalkes

Chance meeting with German comedy star Otto Waalkes. Blurry old photo in a restaurant. Afterwards I tweeted that I had just met Loriot, who is someone quite different.

See 2016 out in style with the Rainer Hersch Orkestra

Rainer Hersch Orkestra

2017 is just around the corner!

Just a few days to go before Rainer Hersch’s grand Finale to 2016 with his New Year’s Eve Bash. It’s going to be one of the hottest tickets around promising a great night out for families, couples and individuals of all ages and musical interests.

Big Ben

What better way to welcome in 2017 than with this fabulous orchestra, some really great music, hilarious goings on with Rainer Hersch himself – plus his special guest, comedian John Hegley. All wrapped up a wonderful end-of-year extravaganza in a stunning central London venue.


“You’ll never see another show quite like this”

Edinburgh Evening News

And looking ahead to 2017

Friday Night is Music Night… with Rainer Hersch
at the Watford Colosseum on Tuesday 7 March

Rainer Hersch will be in charge of the BBC Concert Orchestra in a special edition of BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night in support of Comic Relief.  The concert will be recorded for later transmission – tickets available soon!

Friday night is Music Night

‘Comedy Meets the Orchestra’
Rainer Hersch conducts the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on Friday 10 March

Featuring Rainer’s usual antics of games, tricks and jokes for conductor, orchestra and audience, until you see what happens when Rainer Hersch conducts the CBSO, you’ve no idea what really goes on inside the music of Rossini, Mozart, Verdi and Strauss.


Introducing ‘The Rainer Hersch Orkestra’

Rainer Hersch’s own nine-piece ‘Orkestra’ will soon be taking to the London stage for his New Year’s Eve Bash. Rainer is not only a brilliant musical comedian but also a genius composer, arranger and conductor taking some of the great works of classical music and connecting and corrupting them into something utterly hilarious.

We find out more about this band of madcap virtuosi – who they are, what they do and why do they spell it like that!

Why did you need to create your own orchestra?

I have been lucky enough to conduct some of the great orchestras of the world in some of the most famous venues.  That includes doing a comedy set with the Petersburg Philharmonic in the Grand Philharmonic Hall in St Petersburg, for example.  This magnificent building is where historic performances have been given and for me it was regarded as being rather like doing a stand-up set in the Vatican.

Grand Philharmonic Hall

Grand Philharmonic Hall

Such opportunities are truly wonderful and enormously exciting but each time is also like climbing the mountain all over again.  You get up on the podium for the first rehearsal in front of 80 people, a team of colleagues who don’t know you, and begin the process of getting the show together from scratch.  Musicians like that are fabulous, enjoy it and are quick learners but there is no getting away from the fact that it is still a mountain.

So what is so special about having your own ‘Rainer Hersch Orkestra’?

What is nice about having the Orkestra is that I start the rehearsals already at the summit, so to speak.  They know what to expect and it makes the process is a lot easier.  Instead of putting on the crampons and advancing from Base Camp, we can use the rehearsal to build bigger mountains.


The line-up is strings plus one clarinet, one French horn, a percussionist and pianist.  The number of strings can go up and down though.  A lot of times, it is just one of each: first violin, second violin, viola, cello and bass.  For our special show at Cadogan Hall there are going to be four first violins and two of everything else, so it is all a lot grander.

But what about the music?

Titanic to Tchaikovsky

Titanic to Tchaikovsky

Everything from Titanic to Tchaikovsky.  The core of our stuff is well-known (and I mean really well-known) classical music but if that’s not your thing DON’T PANIC! This is going to a comedy gig with all sorts in it that everyone gets.  You’ll recognise some famous TV themes, film music and there is even some singalong with a hilarious original song from our guest, musician and poet, John Hegley.

And why do you spell it ‘Orkestra’?

Well, if I called it ‘orchestra’ you wouldn’t think it was anything special.  You might even come along thinking that you were going to hear some Mozart or whatever, straight.  The Rainer Hersch Orkestra is the antidote to that classical thing of sitting quietly and letting it all just happen to you.  It’s loud its, fast and it coming to a venue near you.

Share your evening with The Rainer Hersch Orkestra at the fabulous New Year’s Eve Bash at London’s Cadogan Hall on 31 December – the perfect New Year’s Eve family treat.


New Apple® Ringtones Rag Video released

Filmed entirely in central London and featuring actual footage shot on the London Underground, Rainer Hersch’s new Apple® Ringtones Rag Video is a real cracker!

Gloucester Road tube station: We were pretty sure we were going to be arrested by the London Transport Police here but nothing.

Rainer has taken all those all-too-familiar and ever-so-slightly annoying ringtones, alerts, keyboard clicks and vibrations associated with Apple® devices and created an extraordinarily funny and musically coherent piece in a ragtime style. Brilliantly edited, it features scenes shot on the platform and on the London Tube as well as outdoors against the backdrop of some of London’s famous scenes.

The line up consists of players from the Rainer Hersch Orkestra with Rainer playing xylophone accompanied by clarinet, horn, two violins, viola, cello and percussion.

On the Piccadilly Line: Yes, there was a passenger sitting just out of shot on the left. She got off at the next stop. Strange that.

On the Piccadilly Line: Yes, there was a passenger sitting just out of shot on the left. She got off at the next stop. Strange that.

Rainer explains more about the making of the video…

“This is the first clip I have ever done specifically for YouTube. I wrote the piece last year with a friend as the sequel to my Windows™ Waltz, also on YouTube, which almost 5 million people have watched so far.

My first idea was to film the entire piece on the street outside the Apple Store in Covent Garden, London. But, from the outside, that Store doesn’t look like anything – there is no signage or big apple logo hanging. So then I did a reconnaissance of the Apple Store on Regents Street with the idea that we all stand on the central reservation in the middle of the road. But that store is shut for renovations – doh! (In the end I just used that location for the final, final scene after the credits where I am playing the xylophone alone). With those ideas gone, the obvious thing was to just record ourselves performing it with London’s world-famous sights as a backdrop.

The only place where we got into trouble was the shot where you can see Tower Bridge in the background. A beefeater came out of the Tower of London (I kid you not) to say that the whole of the river front is owned by the Queen and, since we didn’t have permission (from her? I didn’t find out), we would have to stop. He was very nice about it and, since we had already played the piece twice through already, we didn’t mind but cleared off pronto in case his mood changed and he put us into a cell at Her Majesty’s pleasure, or worse.

Anyway the clip was a lot of fun to make and I hope it gives people a lot of pleasure. I also have a bet with my Nephew for a hundred quid that it will get to 10 million views in three years. He says it won’t but he’s only a kid (er…23) so what does he know? But, just in case, do me a favour and watch it a few times because my mouse finger is starting to get sore from all the clicking.”

On Westminster Bridge: Most of the tourists on that double-decker tour bus thought they were going to get a shot of Big Ben - but they got a shot of us instead.

On Westminster Bridge: Most of the tourists on that double-decker tour bus thought they were going to get a shot of Big Ben – but they got a shot of us instead.

The sound file is available for download now.

Catch The Rainer Hersch Orkestra live at The New Year’s Eve Bash at London’s Cadogan Hall on 31 December – the perfect New Year’s Eve event for all the family.

‘Whether you are a professor of harmony or couldn’t tell a string quartet from a string vest, this is the funniest concert you’ll ever see’ Time Out

Rainer Hersch’s American Adventure

Fresh from his whirlwind trip to Portland Oregon, Rainer Hersch is now back in the UK preparing to launch his brand new ‘Orkestra’ at his New Year’s Eve BashWe caught up with Rainer to find out more about his American Adventure…



So tell us a bit more about this amazing venue you were performing in?

I performed at Nordic Northwest – a brand new and very impressive facility built by the Scandinavian Heritage Foundation, which is supported by the many people in Oregon who have roots in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland or Finland.

And what did you perform there?

I gave two performances of my solo, two act comedy Rainer Hersch’s Victor Borge, which is a narrated story about the legendary Danish/American pianist and comedian – mostly funny but sometimes very poignant as well.  I am the narrator and play both Borge and myself.  You can read more about the great Victor Borge here.

What was the reaction like in Portland?

Very good indeed.  When they see the title of this show, people aren’t always sure what to expect – often they think it is going to be some guy just doing Borge’s act.  But, ultimately, this show explores my relationship to Borge.  It is funny – stand-up funny – all the way through but it is also very personal.  As well as Borge, there is a lot of me in it – and I seem to have got away with it! 

The Americans have a fond affection for Borge. He arrived there during WW2, worked with the likes of Bing Crosby and Franck Sinatra and had his own hugely successful TV and Radio shows. I have done my show hundreds of times now since I wrote it for Edinburgh in 2004 and, I am happy to say, the reaction is always the same.

Cable car

So what else did you get up to?

I cycled around a lot on a hired bicycle in between the rain. It rains a hell of a lot in Portland. I think the sun came out only once.  And, when it does, people walk along the Willamette river which is beautiful – near the cannabis factory!

There is also the only inner city cable car I have ever been on.  It runs from the hospital to the hospital car park because there wasn’t enough space to build both side by side.  Bit of a bummer if you happen to be visiting as a result of a skiing accident but the view from the top is bloody marvellous.


And did you learn anything else about the States?

I visited Voodoo Doughnut, a much-loved stop on the Portland tourist trail, and munched my way through enough calories to feed a village.  And, of course, I was there over Halloween, which the Americans do with flare and passion.  Everybody is in fancy dress, from bank clerks to bar staff.  I thought of going as Victor Borge but thought maybe it wouldn’t have been quite his style.


Don’t miss your chance to catch The Rainer Hersch Orkestra and The New Year’s Eve Bash at London’s Cadogan Hall on 31 December – the perfect New Year’s Eve event for all the family.

“Whether you are a professor of harmony or couldn’t tell a string quartet from a string vest, this is ‘the funniest concert you’ll ever see” Time Out

7 things you didn’t know about Rainer Hersch

Rainer Hersch Orkestra

Rainer Hersch is coming to town – on Saturday 31 December at 7pm to be precise – at London’s prestigious Cadogan Hall just off Sloane Square with his New Year’s Eve Bash.

But here are seven things you may not know about this comic maestro…

1. As a London schoolboy he ran the ‘Monty Python Appreciation Society’.  Embarrassing or what?

3. He studied Economics at university – definitely a mistake.

4. Rainer started moonlighting on the London comedy circuit telling jokes about flying.  And sex.  You know, normal stand-up stuff.

Rainer's comedy gig

5. At his first solo show, ’The Massed Bands of the Grenadier Guards and R.A.F. Fly-past + support’ a woman asked for a refund because there hadn’t actually been any Grenadier Guards or a single Fly-past in the show.

6. Appearing on the Edinburgh Fringe, Rainer presented ‘All Classical Music Explained’ – a guide to “How to play instruments without practicing”.

6. Rainer formed the Rainer Hersch Orkestra and started doing comedy on radio and TV. Now he has conducted more orchestras than you can wave a stick at.  Boom boom.

7. Although Rainer continues with his solo shows, making TV and radio programmes – mostly for the BBC –  he still dreams of doing the Monty Python ‘Argument Clinic’ sketch!

In The Rainer Hersch Orkestra and The New Year’s Eve Bash nothing is safe from the comic maestro as he whips through witty arrangements of the classics. Yes, it’s a classical concert Jim but not as we know it – all bound together with his award-winning stand-up comedy.

Whether you are a professor of harmony or couldn’t tell a string quartet from a string vest, this is ‘the funniest concert you’ll ever see’ Time Out

The Rainer Hersch Orkestra and The New Year’s Eve Bash is the perfect New Year’s Eve event for all the family.