At the increasingly prestigious Grouchy Club yesterday afternoon, conversation between me, my co-host Kate Copstick – doyenne of comedy reviewers – and comedians in the audience turned to comic Jim Davidson.
Copstick said that a non-British comedian who did not know anything about the great entertainer had seen his current show at the Edinburgh Fringe and had told her it was fantastic.
“He loved it,” said Copstick. “He said Jim Davidson was a great comedian and was just like a normal bloke, doing blokey comedy.”
“Maybe…” said audience member/comedian Matt Price. “I think he’s technically good, but…”
“Have you seem his show this year?” asked Copstick.
“No,” said Matt.
“Well don’t judge,” Copstick told Matt.
“I can’t avoid judging,” said audience member/comedian Paul Ricketts, “because I’ve worked with him. I know he’s a cunt.”
“But half the comics on the alternative scene,” said Copstick, “are cunts…”
“I know,” said Paul.
“I’m sorry,” Copstick said, apologising to two ordinary members of the public from Tasmania who were inexplicably in an audience otherwise filled by comedy industry people. “Cunt is a term of…”
“It is,” I explained, “like an Australian calling someone a ‘bastard’ – It is a term of affection in Scotland.”
“A lot of comics start a bit cuntish,” said Copstick, “but it takes many, many years…”
“A lot of hard work,” agreed Paul.
“…to become a total cunt,” concluded Copstick. “I think it is a very dangerous thing to judge what somebody is like on-stage by what they are like off-stage. If I did that, most people at the Fringe would be getting one-star reviews from me, because they are arseholes.”
“It is though,” said Paul, “very hard to divorce the art from the person when that person has annoyed you so much. I worked on Jim Davidson’s panto Sinderella at the Cambridge Theatre – I was a wood-pusher – I was working backstage – and I was on the verge of getting off with this wardrobe mistress, who was a very good friend of his.
“I went back to her place – gorgeous blonde – and she put on a video of the previous Jim Davidson pantomime and, after 20 minutes, I just thought No! I had to pretend to go to sleep – and turn down the sex – because I couldn’t stand it. That is real punishment and he doesn’t even know he’s done it.”
“What was wrong with watching the video?” I asked.
“It is a well-known fact,” said Copstick, “that Jim Davidson appears in very few comedians’ wank banks.”
“What about Jim Davidson’s Funeral?” I asked.
“Well,” Copstick said, “among the many things I loathe – because I have lived long and every year the list of things I loathe gets longer – quite high up is performers who come up to the Fringe and only do one day.”
A couple of nights ago, I saw the terrifically funny one-off show shambles that was Jim Davidson’s Funeral, perpetrated by comedy double act Ellis & Rose. They won an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Award last year for a publicity stunt in which Rich Rose punched Gareth Ellis in the face causing actual bodily harm simply so they could get publicity by claiming he was attacked in the street by a punter outraged by their performance of Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show.
Kate Copstick failed to see Jim Davidson’s Funeral this week but, no matter, Ellis & Rose wrote a 5-star review of their own show claiming it was her review and posted it all over the internet. It read:
Ellis & Rose have cemented themselves as arch-villains of the Edinburgh Fringe… I’m now quitting as head critic at The Scotsman, as nothing is worth reviewing after this – Kate Copstick
I can’t see this fake review making it to the Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award short list.
Nor the fake issues of Broadway Baby – another one appeared yesterday – as Barry Ferns got an award for the original idea last year.
A more obvious attempt to get a Cunning Stunt Award happened a few days ago when Frankie Boyle fans were enticed to the Pleasance Dome by the implied promise of a ‘secret gig’ by their comedy hero.
At the gig, comic Luke McQueen walked out on stage, said “Give me a cheer if you’re excited about seeing Frankie Boyle”, then explained that he (McQueen) could not get an audience for his own show, so he had to lie to draw a crowd.
McQueen told the Chortle comedy website: “They weren’t very happy. But I was confident, once they heard my comedy, the mood would change. To my surprise, it didn’t. They seemed quite upset that I wasn’t Frankie Boyle and began to leave. I offered to do a bit of Frankie’s material if they stayed but they weren’t interested. Some people said some pretty mean things as they left.” He told Chortle that the response was ‘demoralising’ but said he might try again: “Maybe I’ll try a bigger venue like the O2 and saying it’s Michael McIntyre. I think his audience will be more patient.”
As I told the Grouchy Club audience yesterday afternoon: “There is a heated debate to be had next Monday about whether stupidity is any barrier to being nominated for or indeed winning an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award. It is arguable that it may be a positive advantage.”
“I love cunning stunts,” said Copstick, “that are done by people who are clearly idiots… Ellis & Rose are clearly idiots.”
“They’re not idiots,” I remonstrated. “They’re just mentally deranged.”
“No,” argued Copstick. “It’s a fine line, John, but I think they’re idiots.”
“I think it’s desperation,” isn’t it?” said Matt Price. “Everyone’s desperate to get…”
“Desperation is good for comedy,” I suggested.
“Why not spend ten years learning how to be a comedian, though,” asked Matt, “rather than thinking about fame?”
“Where’s the fun in that?” I asked. “If you had the choice – ten years at the coalface or come up for one day and do Jim Davidson’s Funeral for self-publicity?”
“Oh no,” said Matt. “I’m not knocking those two…”
“Well obviously, if you were a cunt,” said Copstick, “you would do Jim Davidson’s Funeral.”
“And remember,” I pointed out to the two Tasmanians, “that the word ‘cunt’ is a term of affection.”