So, yesterday evening, I was sitting on London’s South Bank with Miss Behave outside the giant upside-down purple cow – the Uddderbelly venue – discussing which acts to book for the two hour Malcolm Hardee Awards Show at the Edinburgh Fringe this August. It is on the final Friday of the Fringe and Miss Behave is presenting it.
“Well,” I said, “we already have the Greatest Show on Legs doing the naked balloon dance…”
And then magician Paul Zenon passed by. He had a chat with Miss Behave.
“I’m seeing Charlie Chuck tomorrow,” I said to him.
“Ah,” Paul said. “He phoned me up recently because he says he’s going to be doing more work in Europe and he wants some props for a tour that’s coming up.
“Years ago, I made some props for him because I wanted to have the credit as Charlie Chuck’s magic consultant. He phoned me up because he was doing a four-month theatre tour with Vic and Bob – Reeves & Mortimer – and he wanted some bigger visuals to play the theatres.
“Years before that, I’d been doing kids’ TV and had some props left. One of them was a big megaphone-trumpet.
“It involved a whole routine with a giant birthday card, where you sing Happy Birthday, you show the card, you sing through the funnel, put the funnel on top of the card and then, for the reveal, a big three-tier cake appears underneath the funnel – like a wedding cake, but it’s a birthday cake.
“Nothing can go wrong…
“So I trained Charlie to do this, spent a couple of hours rehearsing it and he did it very well. It fitted his style. Just a daft thing. Singing a song.
“So, the first night of the four-month tour, it comes to that part of the show… He sings Happy Birthday, he shows the card, sings through the funnel, reveals the cake… Big round of applause… And then he twats the cake with a big lump of wood and destroys it and that was the end of the £300 prop on the first night of the tour.”
“That’s Charlie Chuck,” I laughed. “He loves a plank of wood. What did he say afterwards?”
“He didn’t mention it and neither did I,” replied Paul. “I don’t think we’ve mentioned it to this day.”
“And now he wants more props for European shows?” I asked.
“Yes,” Paul said. “So I’m thinking of anything else I can get rid of out of my cupboard, because it’ll just get trashed anyway. He says he’s making the act more visual to move into other territories. Maybe that’s,” Paul laughed, “cos of Health & Safety issues in the UK getting stricter – He has to go elsewhere to swing big bits of wood round near audiences. I think the act’s genius. I think it’s one of the funniest things I’ve seen.”
“Do you want to appear on the Malcolm Hardee Awards Show in Edinburgh?” Miss Behave asked.
“OK,” said Paul.