Rainer Hersch is a stand-up comedian, pianist and conductor who has performed on every major comedy stage in Britain and abroad. He has appeared twelve times at the Edinburgh Festival; featured in comedy clubs all across Europe and in TV shows around the world. Rainer started telling jokes at school to avoid being beaten up by bigger boys in the schoolyard. This only made the beatings worse so he went inside and took up music – first the clarinet, then piano and finally, succumbing to the megalomania for which the concert hall is known, the baton.
Amongst the many teachers whose considered artistry he abused in the process were pianists – mostly as a private student of Norma Fisher; conductors – principally in master classes with János Fürst and George Hurst at the Royal Academy of Music and a few people you are even less likely to have heard of at Thames Valley University (where he studied composition) and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (acting). He also holds an honours degree in economics – though this is truly a surprise everyone that knows him – not least the staff of Lancaster University who taught him for three years. After leaving university, Rainer started moonlighting from his chosen music career by telling jokes for money in clubs around London. Without Rainer intending it, this quickly developed into a career which he loved even more than music. Thus, in 1992 and with much trepidation, he gave up the music and became a professional stand-up comedian. For the first few years he supported himself very successfully with absolutely straight stand-up comedy – jokes about flying, sex, sex while flying, you name it. Then, in 1996, Rainer wrote his first show about something he really did care about – classical music. The result All Classical Music Explained was an immediate hit with audiences, on radio and TV.
He has been writing and laughing about classical music ever since. His repertoire has now expanded to three comedy-orchestral programmes which he conducts, one solo show (All Classical Music Explained) and two more dramatic comedy shows: one about Mozart and one about the late, great Danish/American entertainer, Victor Borge with whom Rainer has often been compared. He also broadcasts regularly for the BBC and still likes to guest in a few stand-up comedy clubs in and around London.
“At last a musical comedian with a difference – he is really funny” – The London Telegraph