How one comic broke his own bones for an Edinburgh Fringe comedy show

Kunt and the Gang’s ‘cockgate’ saga is not the only Edinburgh Fringe publicity stunt which might be considered for the Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award next week – the judges meet on Tuesday to decide a shortlist.

Tim FitzHigham might be in there for unintentionally getting attention with bone-breaking. The fact that a publicity stunt is unintentional does not necessarily disqualify it from winning a Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award – as Stewart Lee proved last year.

For his Fringe show Tim Fitzhigham: Gambler, Tim tried to recreate the ten weirdest wagers and strangest bets in history. He says:

“Some of them we don’t know who won and some we don’t even know if they’re possible so I wanted to find out.

“Early on,” he tells me, “while doing this, I broke a finger. It was actually in an unrelated cricketing accident (playing for a comedians 11 in a charity match). The doctor re-set it but, it being a finger, after a couple of drinks one night I knocked it and broke it again on a table. They re-set it again and, by accident, I broke it again – this time while training for one of my bets. They re-set it again (by this time the doctor was getting a little less happy to see me). Again it broke and, this time, he decided to re-set it using large amounts of metal – a sort of mini-Barry Sheene approach! We thought there was no chance it could break again with a load of metal in it. So, after four breaks, all seemed well.

“Unfortunately, the metal poked out of the end of my finger and caused one of the most undignified scenes I have ever been involved in. While attempting to wash myself, I somehow managed to get my finger hook attached to my testicles.

“I went into the bedroom where my wife was trying to get out of her dress and she asked Could you un-hook me? I replied I’ll unhook you if you unhook me first. She turned and gazed at me with a look I can only imagine a fisherman gives to a catch he knows he’s never going to eat… It is a very testing time in a marriage, looking down to see the woman you love unhooking your hand from your plums.

“Then, while training to take-on a race horse in a 100 yard dash, I slipped and fell down a slope impaling myself on a fence post. It could have been quite bad but, luckily for me, I only fractured a rib. I tried to postpone it but the horse was adamant so I had to enter the race against the horse with a broken finger and fractured rib.

“I mention this to the audience in my show to give them a fair indication of the form.

“All these attempts had involved bets so, at this stage, my gambling losses were getting crippling so there was no chance of taking time off to recuperate.

“I had also entered into a bet to roll a cheese board over four miles. It is a very old cheese board and quite heavy and you have to throw it 60 metres per go to stand any chance of winning the bet. Needless to say, with my broken finger and fractured rib not helping… I sprained a wrist.

“The next bet involved pulling a 1 pound weight on a mile of rope. It was not entirely pain-free.

“Then we come to the wheelbarrow incident.

“I had taken on a wheelbarrow bet – it was originally done in  1789 by a man called Goliath Shadbolt (not a promising name to attempt to beat at anything).

“You have to push a wheelbarrow from Ware in Hertfordshire to Shoreditch in London in under 6 hours – that is just shy of a marathon distance, so it is quite a competitive time. On the way, I hurt my big toe on the wheelbarrow. It hurt a lot. We thought I had split it.

“The good news was that I had not split it… Hurrah!

“The bad news was that it was fractured… Bother!

“That covers the breakages…

“Then, of course, the metal fell out of my hand.

“I tried to pop it back in and got it most of the way back in but could not manage that last bit. So I arrived back at the hospital to see the same now grim-faced doctor who, after various x-rays etc, decided that the metal had not fallen out but that my body had rejected it as being infected and, as a result, I had now contracted an infection in my bone marrow!

“On 1st August, he said I should not travel more than one hour away from the hospital where he practices in East Anglia so, naturally, I came up to Edinburgh and started the run of my show. My losses were now running so high there was really no other choice – Where else could I find so many other people losing so much money?

“I accept that, medically, it was a bit of a gamble doing this but luckily it seems to have paid off in so much as the infection has not flared up again and hopefully I will keep my bone marrow and not turn to jelly by the end of the month.

“I would wager few have ever chased a punchline this hard – and none have found it less consistently!

“PS… Then, of course, there was a death in the family.

“What a month!”

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Filed under Comedy, PR, Theatre

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