I went to comedian Malcolm Hardee’s birthday party last night. He is dead – he drowned in 2005 – but it would have been his 64th birthday and he is rather a difficult character to forget.
There was a full house to see a stand-up comedy bill and screenings of an hour-long BSB TV variety show which I produced in 1990 – Malcolm Hardee: 25 Years in Showbiz – and the still-unfinished and increasingly baroquely-detailed documentary which Jody VandenBurg has been making about Malcolm since 2005 – Malcolm Hardee – All The Way From Over There. Jody told me he hopes to finish it by next year.
There is a taster for the documentary on Vimeo (WARNING: includes full-frontal male nudity):
Suitably for Malcolm, the event last night took place in a south east London pub – the Fox & Firkin in Lewisham.
“We got a lifetime ban from here about 30 – maybe 35 – years ago,” Martin Potter told me. He was the sound man for and a business partner of Malcolm’s and an occasional member of the Greatest Show On Legs comedy troupe which included Malcolm.
“The Firkin chain were the first chain of real ale pubs and this was the first one,” Martin told me last night, “It was started by a man called Bruce and then he opened another one called the Goose & Firkin up in Southwark.
“The Greatest Show On Legs did a show here and then one at the Goose & Firkin and, at the end of it, Dave Brooks the bagpiper decided to pour a pint of beer over Bruce’s head and we got banned from all the Firkin pubs forever. But that was fair enough.”
Then I got talking to Malcolm Hardee’s daughter Poppy. The subject of Malcolm’s jokes came up – he had about six of them which he used over the course of about 20-25 years. He had two poems. One was:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
The other was:
There was an old woman
Who lived in a shoe
She had so many children
Her cunt fell off
“Malcolm told that poem at my school,” Poppy remembered. “He turned up with no hair and a blue furry jacket. He was in a stretch limo.
“I said: Dad, you’ve got no hair. What happened?
“He said: I got high and burnt it all off in Glastonbury and then he told the story about the cunt falling off in front of all my friends.”
“How old were your friends?” I asked.
“Twelve,” said Poppy. “We were embarrassed. My schoolteacher told him off once, because he turned up to my play and he distracted the whole audience. It was a Nativity play and I was Mary. At the end, my teacher gave a speech saying: Thankyou, children, for being really sensible and ignoring the drunk old man who was making faces. That was him. He’d been at the back going Way-hay! halfway through the Nativity. I think he was sent out by the teachers.”