(This column was printed in Three Weeks on 22nd August 2012)
Debate always rages at the Fringe about whether people should use a professional publicist. Is forking out £2000-£3000 actually going to get you more coverage? As most performers are organisationally doolally, it may be worth the money.
I have never used a PR because I have a background in promotion and marketing and I am fairly organised and pro-active. But not this year. As I am only staging one show – the one-off, two-hour Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show at the Counting House on Friday 24th August (always plug your listings!) I figured I would take a leaf out of the late Malcolm Hardee’s own book… and just bumble along, do things late and see what happens.
As my awards show – the REAL Fringe Awards show – is on the final Friday in the final week of the Fringe, I think issuing press releases or even trying to get coverage at the start of the Festival would have been pointless. There is no point advertising products which are not immediately available on the shelf. People reading on 4th August a plug for a single one-off show on 24th August would have forgotten by the time the show was imminent.
So I decided on a late publicity push. This had the added bonus that I could be lazy. It also meant that, to an extent, I might actually know what was in the bloody show by the time I got started. This has not necessarily proven to be true. All that is certain is that it is full of very bizarre acts. And the winners of the three annual awards will be announced.
At the start of the Fringe, I was not 100% certain that legendary cabaret act Miss Behave would compère the show, despite the fact she is billed in the Fringe Programme. She managed to bugger her back in an accident immediately before the Festival started. (She was supposed to compère the show last year, too, but contracted near-fatal meningitis – perhaps she is trying to tell me something). But now she is fine. Better than fine. Bouncing with outrageousness. I had booked the brilliant Janey Godley as a back-up compere and she will now be doing an 8-minute set and – I hope – joining in our Russian Egg Roulette contest.
Yes, not only are we having the late Malcolm Hardee’s comedy troupe The Greatest Show On Legs perform their infamous Naked Balloon Dance, we are also having the international president of the World Egg Throwing Federation come to Edinburgh to supervise a Russian Egg Roulette contest. Two people face each other across a table. Six eggs in a box. Five are hard-boiled. One is raw. The contestants smash an egg against their own forehead (as in Russian Roulette but with eggs) until one of them loses by smashing the raw egg onto their forehead. It is a knock-out contest. Possibly literally. One winner. Comedians Arthur Smith, Richard Herring and other un-nameable ‘Names’ have said they will take part.
And then, at 1.00am on Saturday morning, the show will not finish. It will blend imperceptibly, though presumably chaotically, into one of Arthur Smith’s near legendary (even people who went on them could not quite believe they happened) night-time tours of Edinburgh. These used to end in nudity, drunken shouting, the arrival of the police and sometimes arrests. I think Simon Munnery was once mistakenly arrested by the Leith Police for being a German. But maybe things will have mellowed.
I could have put none of this in a press release at the start of the Fringe. Russian Egg Roulette appeared as a possibility two weeks ago. The link to Arthur Smith’s tour only became a possibility last week. Which reminds me… the website still has last year’s details on it! But not by the time you read this. Which you can check at www.malcolmhardee.co.uk/award