If the Daily Mail calls you “zany” is that good or bad at the Edinburgh Fringe?

It is good to know the Daily Mail reads my blog, even if a little belatedly.

Yesterday’s column by Richard Kay carried a piece using a quote from my blog last week about increasingly embattled government minister Chris Huhne. I am not quite sure if it is intended to support or undermine him. Who can understand the Machiavellian machinations of Fleet Street where politics are concerned? Or maybe it’s just printed because the quote is quite sweet. Let’s assume it is that:


Chris Huhne’s reputation as a ladies man has been enhanced by zany stand-up comedienne Charmian Hughes, who recalls a romantic encounter with the priapic Lib Dem Cabinet minister when they were teenagers in West London.

Convent school-educated Charmian says her first snog came courtesy of Huhne, who used to drive around in a London taxi, when she was 15 and he 17. 

‘He was a very glamorous and sexy figure. We all adored him. He was brainy and cool and sophisticated. I think he only snogged me to put me out of my misery.’


It is a pity the Daily Mail calls Charmian “zany” as that is one of those words which sometimes sit uneasily as a quote on an Edinburgh Fringe poster – and anyone performing at the Fringe in August is currently poring over possible quotes for posters, flyers and press releases.

“Zany” is one of those words which student revues use on their first trip to perform at the Fringe – it’s only one step down from the much-dreaded word “wacky”.

I wrote comedy reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe for a couple of years. One comic still calls me a “cunt” on sight because of one rather mild review I wrote of her performance. But, if I ever saw publicity for a comedy show billing itself as “wacky”, I would run a royal mile and try to find a group of limbless orphans performing a play about the Moors Murders. More chance of comedy in that.

The other problem is that the “zany” quote comes from the Daily Mail.

The Mail is like a red (or should that be blue?) rag to a bull for many comics because of its perceived too-far-to-the-right-ness. What this knee-jerk reaction misses, of course, is that it has built up its massive circulation because it knows what Middle England likes and thinks. (Its sales in Scotland, interestingly, are negligible.) I wrote an unloved blog about this which got me e-mails saying I’m a prat with neo-Fascist tendencies. But beware of ignoring the selling power of the Daily Mail.

A quote from the Daily Mail will not get you loved by mostly Guardian-reading reviewers, but it may well get you more bums-on-seats.

Whether a very good stand-up like Charmian Hughes can put “zany” on her poster (I think she can) and can use a quote from the Daily Mail (I think she should) even if it’s out-of-context because it is not actually a review of her show (everyone does that at the Fringe) will be one of the many interesting things to see in August.

When I told her about the Daily Mail quote, Charmian’s reaction was:

“OMG, how do they know I am zany? Do you think they were secretly in my audience at the Brighton Fringe?… I’m using ‘hilarious’ Guido Fawkes as a quote.”

This could turn out to be a battle of the quotes. The Guido Fawkes political website – which deals in Westminster gossip – tweeted that my blog is a “hilarious read” and that the specific Chris Huhne blog in question was “a brilliant post”.

Now I just have to figure out how to spread the news that I am a “hilarious read” before news of Charmian’s “hilarious” zaniness spreads to Edinburgh.

Or could Charmian’s surprising and, to me, suspicious schmoozing of politicians, websites and the Daily Mail be a devious early ploy in a campaign to win the much-coveted and increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award?


Tell me about publicity…


Filed under Comedy, Newspapers, Politics, PR

5 responses to “If the Daily Mail calls you “zany” is that good or bad at the Edinburgh Fringe?

  1. Haa! – the Daily Mail.. oddly, not so long ago, I spent about an hour on the phone talking to a ‘reporter’ from same said newspaper from an approach via my web site – I still have the e-mail/s and telepohone numbers in question, so I know it ‘happened’ – but to her dismay(!?), her story relating to me as being ‘zany’ aka ‘wacky’ was spiked and never to appear it seems but from the offset, all this was started off by some soul who had contacted them about the fact that if you put ‘eccentric inventor’ into Google, my web site came up in the ‘number one slot’ each time, then wrote to their feature writer, one Jane Fry I was told, who ‘passed’ it onto this poor soul, who it turned out was a freelance when it boiled down to it and she seem quite urined off as she didn’t get paid..

    Zany or wacky? – whatever but don’t involve the Daily mail unless you want to waste your time, but it nice to know I have been ‘blacked’ by this wonderful paper! – oddly, they used to print my letters in their Readers Letters section until thnat too ‘stopped’ but, although being zany perhaps, I still get my stuff in via other people under their names whom I e-mail to and they send them on in the same way or by post and oddly(?), some do get printed so while I am not in love with ‘seeing my name in print’ unlike some headbangers, I DO get my points across!! – Paul Dacre, eat yer heart out! (he’ the ‘editor’ by the way..)

    • Jeaniegraham

      Yes I hear what you say. As regards words describing some peoples lifestyles – “zany” “wacky” “mad” – they are all just words. I think eccentric still suits you best John. Great to hear as always what you are up to and all the amusing bits you roll out. Hope you dont mind me using John Fleming’s blog to write messages to you or reply to you. Amazing man Mr Ward. Jeanie

      • Hi Jeanie! – gorsh, me Fan again! – all these years, not knowing…ha bliss! – the good thing about it is you are seemingly of sound mind, limb and able to read! – I mention this as somebody was kind enough to tell me – I quote ‘ere – “I bet you attract a fair amount of knuckle draggers(?) with your daft stuff..” so you coming forward seemed to knock that idea slightly askew as they say! On the other hand, if it all goes ‘wrong’ in the passing of time, as opposed to water, I hope I get a bed near a window although the colour of the walls around it is not all that important. Bottom line, if Mr Fleming has no objection, and I don’t, carry on Dear Lady!

        Best dishes!


  2. Jeaniegraham

    Hahaha. Had to laugh – me seemingly of sound mind!! Matter of opinion. There is some that wouldnt agree with that and all the people I know are as odd as the days long and far from normal as they can be, so may be I am too. I attract them on buses, everywhere, they make a beeline for me and it all happens to me, bit like you! Life is too short to get bogged down in the serious stuff. There is too much misery and sad news in the world. Live, love and laugh thats my motto. Pleased that you don’t mind me keep replying, its just up to Mr Fleming then and what he thinks. Jeanie

    • Ohhhh, I s agree! – too much grief about – always thought you can shovel your way through life without messing others about BUT make ’em smile in the process I say! In one job I was gainfully employed at, my ‘boss’ accussed me of being ‘too happy in the job’ and when she brought this little matter up, like you do, I replied that the reason I was as I am was the fact that the alternative was really nasty, gloomy with no hope in sight and on her asking what that could be, I replied simply – “You” I said…
      Otherwise, you reply as much as you like! – I feel sure we might be ‘packing ’em in’ on dear Mr Fleming’s Blogginess!

      Best dishes!

      PS: if you can’t wait to see who’s ‘won’ tonight’s Britain’s Got Tackled, read today’s Daily Mail – don’t think its far out..

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