A comedy night in 1998 with Malcolm Hardee, Phil Nichol – not about Islam

Up The Creek comedy club in 2009

Up The Creek comedy club – still running in 2009

I had no blog ready today.

My eternally-un-named friend suggested I should post one about the origins of Shia and Sunni Islam.

Instead of that, here is an old diary entry about a visit to Malcolm Hardee’s Up The Creek comedy club in South East London – on Sunday 4th October 1998.


A very small audience of about 50. Terrible start with a non-comedian and would-be surrealist who might go down well at retro-Sixties rock festivals to an audience of heavily-stoned revellers but who went down to total silence at Up The Creek.

In the second half, the show perked up with an extraordinary Open Spot from a man who strode the stage talking about Jesus, revealed a picture of a white stallion on an easel and a picture of a hedgehog which he said was “the people of Kosovo” – in the largely Albanian-populated Serbian province currently being attacked by Serbian forces. The act was screamed-at and yelled-at but not forced off the stage.

Phil Nichol (left) in Corky & The Juice Pigs in the 1990s

Phil Nichol (left) in Corky & The Juice Pigs in the 1990s

This was followed by Canadian (in fact, he was born in Scotland) comic Phil Nichol (of Corky & The Juice Pigs), whose act soared from good to brilliant as he ad-libbed and played off members of the audience. In particular, he spotted a drunken man who had tried a slight, amiable heckle and whom he decided to call Boris the Russian.

Phil Nichol in a recent performance

Phil Nichol in a more recent performance

He kept playing off this guy who eventually moved in embarrassment to another seat. Further into the act, Boris, drunkenly got up on stage without invitation and Nichol very bravely and – as it turned out – very sensibly kept him on, getting him to perform Elvis impressions while still retaining control of the act.

Boris could barely stand and was wobbling on his feet. On a yell from someone in the audience of “Do the Full Monty!” – taken up enthusiastically by the rest of the audience – he did a drunken attempt at a seductive lowering of the trousers, mooned, turned and then pulled them up again. Immensely funny.

Nichols eventually encored, had Malcolm up on stage playing his Blues harmonica and was able to ad-lib apparently genuinely made-up songs when Malcolm unexpectedly stopped and held the microphone to Nichols. An extraordinary example of someone at the peak of their abilities.

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