I recently blogged about how violinist Bobby Valentino, who supposedly gets 25% of the writing royalties on the worldwide hit song Young at Heart, has been getting tens rather than hundreds of thousands of pounds over the last 20 years.
It sounds to me like the film distribution business. They call it creative accounting.
Things are much more straight-forward in the world of British comedy.
Dave Kear performs in his comic persona of Charlie Chuck and remembers how the late comedy club owner Malcolm Hardee used to pay him. Well, sort of…
If you agreed a fee with Malcolm – let’s say it were £200 twenty years ago at Up The Creek - any acts on there had to try to get to Malcolm before he got too drunk or before any of the other comedians got to him. If they were sensible, whoever was on first went up to him immediately afterwards and they got their money… usually. But the comic that went on last – it might have been me or Lee Evans or Jack Dee or Jo Brand – we’d go up to him and he had a routine almost.
You’d ask him: “Have you got the money?”
And he’d say: “How much was it?”
“Two hundred pounds,” you’d say.
“Two hundred pounds?” he’d ask, as if he were surprised.
Then he’d put his hand in his inside jacket pocket and pull maybe £30 out of there. Then his outside pocket and he’d pull maybe £50 out of there. Then £20 out of another pocket and he’d ask: “How much is that?”
He’d give you the money and you’d be counting it. There’s £80… £100… £120… and then he’d start tapping his body and he’d say: “Err, well, you’re coming back again, aren’t you? I’ll have you back again. It’s been a great show and I’ll… I’ll… sort it out with you then… Err… Is that alright?”
Well, he was such a great bloke, you couldn’t… You’d say… Well, that’s what happened regular with Malcolm and it depended, I imagine, on how it had gone earlier that day, with him having a bet on the horses.
If he’d won on the horses, well, you knew you were going to get paid and he’d perhaps give you a bit extra. He were like that.
I don’t know any other promoter that were like Malcolm. He were unique. He were a smashing bloke. What’s the word? Lovable. He were loveable. They were great times.
He seemed helpless. That’s what he’d give off. Being helpless. Of course, he wasn’t helpless, but he’d give that impression. He were so innocent. Brilliant. Great times.
Charlie Chuck is one of the acts on this year’s Malcolm Hardee Awards Show on the final Friday of the Edinburgh Fringe’s Free Festival. He will not be conned out of any money, because no-one is getting paid. They will be performing in memory of Malcolm, who drowned in 2005.
I am organising the show and I do not take any money to cover any costs. Any money donated by the audience at the end will go 100% to comedy critic Kate Copstick’s Mama Biashara charity.
It is what Malcolm would have wanted…
Well, no, of course it isn’t.
But it will certainly be memorable. It always is.
Like Malcolm, a one-off.