Malcolm Hardee, the godfather of British alternative comedy, drowned ten years ago – on 31st January – and I think his body was found three days later. I have a shit memory, I can’t remember exactly and I think it would be lacking in respect to him to check the actual facts.
Anyway, let us assume it was three days later. That would have been 2nd February. So yesterday – 2nd February – was an appropriate night to have a tribute show in his honour at his old club Up The Creek in Greenwich.
All the usual suspects were there, including Malcolm’s sister Clare who reprised her always rousing version of the can-can with her Can’t-Can’t Girls… and Malcolm’s daughter Poppy, who has just returned from Sierra Leone without (she claimed) contracting ebola.
Unfortunately, last night’s show started with a failure.
Malcolm’s comedy mate Martin Soan (entirely naked, of course), attempted to urinate on a random member of the audience sitting in the front row. This had the effect of emptying the front row of everyone other than that lucky, plucky punter.
Alas, Martin was unable to summon up the piss, even when fellow performer Dan Lees attempted to help by pouring water from one pint glass into another next to Martin’s ear.
Fortunately, the rest of the show was successfully staged with bizarre acts too numerous to list and a final naked balloon dance by massed naked performers.
Oh, all right – Jayde Adams, Annie Bashford, Cheekykita, Candy Gigi, the Greatest Show on Legs, Liberty Hodes, Spencer Jones, Dan Lees, Darren Maskell, Joz Norris, Owen O’Neill, Nick Revell, John Robertson and Bob Slayer.
The show was hosted by the dead Malcolm himself – well, Terry Alderton in a wig and suit.
It is quite easy to do a cartoon imitation of Malcolm – you just mumble and shamble a bit. But Terry succeeded in doing a masterly, spot-on impression. He managed to get in all of Malcolm’s gags (well, to be truthful, Malcolm didn’t have many), his asides, habits and physical tics. You could almost say it was an admirably subtle and successful impersonation. But ‘subtle’ is not a word to use in relation to anything Hardee-esque.
I congratulated Terry in the second interval.
“I’m trying to remember all the Malcolmisms,” he told me, “but the great thing is, if I repeat anything, it doesn’t matter, cos that’s what Malcolm did anyway.”
During the first interval in the show, performer Joz Norris – a man desperate to win an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award at the Edinburgh Fringe – accosted me upstairs, by Malcolm’s giant painted pastiche mural of Leonardo’s Last Supper (with Malcolm as Jesus and various other comics as his disciples).
“You remember that idea I told you about at Christmas?” Joz started. “For winning a Cunning Stunt Award?”
“Of course I don’t remember,” I told him. “I have a shit memory.”
“I suggested,” said Joz, “that I just bribe you and give you some money in a briefcase.”
“It’s a good thought,” I told him.
“Maybe £50?” said Joz.
“You said a briefcase,” I carped.
“Well, just for the stunt,” said Joz, “but maybe only like £20.”
“I am going off the idea,” I told him.
“I could get a tiny, novelty, palm-sized briefcase and put a £5 note in it,” suggested Joz. “If we filmed me giving you a tiny briefcase with a £5 note in it, it would be funny. A worthy cunning stunt.”
“Funny, but not a winner,” I said.
“The specifics of how much,” he suggested, “can be sorted out later. It’s the quality of the stunt itself that’s important, isn’t it?”
“Of course not,” I said. “It’s the quantity of the money and we decide after you give it to me if you’re going to win the award.”
“That’s a gamble,” said Joz. “But, then, I suppose a cunning stunt WOULD be a gamble.”
“It would be,” I said encouragingly. “We should try this out.”
“But imagine,” said Joz, “if I bribed you and then I didn’t win.”
“I am imagining that,” I told him.
“There’s a risk factor,” said Joz.
“Not for me,” I said.
“No,” agreed Joz. “You can’t lose.”
“Which is fair enough,” I said.
“You’re not obliged to give me anything,” said Joz.
“I like the way you think,” I told him.
“So,” said Joz, “I either come up with a way round that or accept the situation.”
“Acceptance is the way to go,” I told him. “Positive thinking is always a good attitude.”
“Accepting,” mused Joz, “ that you might end up with the money and I might end up poorer with no award.”
“There are always winners and losers in award shows,” I said.
“What sort of sum might make it work for me?” asked Joz.
“I think we are talking five figures,” I said. “That’s one more than The Beatles.”
“That’s £10,000,” said Joz. “Or more.”
“Or more,” I agreed. “Think positive. Or more.”
“I don’t have that kind of money,” said Joz, sadly.
“You can get it,” I told him.
“I certainly can’t get £10,000 together between now and Edinburgh.”
“You work with children,” I reminded him.
“It’s not as well-paid as you think,” said Joz.
“You can get a good price for children nowadays,” I told him.
“I’m not going to sell them!” said Joz.
“Why not?” I asked. “You have to think outside the box to get a Cunning Stunt Award. Think of the publicity. The tabloids would love it.”
The organiser of last night’s extravaganza, showman Adam Taffler, told me (and I think he was being serious) that he may organise an annual 10th Anniversary of Malcolm’s Death show.
Obviously, each year, it would continue to be the 10th anniversary. Malcolm would have wanted it that way.