Whose are the greatest British funerals of the 20th and 21st centuries?
Well, there is Queen Victoria’s in 1901, Sir Winston Churchill’s in 1965 and Princess Diana’s in 1997.
But, for sheer entertainment value in the last 115 years, surely not one can compare with the funeral of comedian Malcolm Hardee on 17th February 2005. He drowned, drunk, aged 55.
The printed invitation to and running order for the religious service in St Alfege’s church, Greenwich, was headed:
YOU LUCKY BASTARD!
The Daily Telegraph ran a news item on the funeral the following day (yes, it printed a review of the funeral) which was headlined: Funeral at Which the Mourners’ Tears Were Caused by Laughter.
The review said: “Rarely can there have been so much laughter and irreverence at a funeral service and rarely can it have been more appropriate”.
The Sun also ran a review of the funeral, headlined Dead Funny – Comic Mal’s Wacky Send-Off pointing out that “instead of a wreath on his coffin, pals placed a lifebelt and an L-plate. in church, the congregation leapt to their feet and applauded as if he was taking to the stage one last time. they included comics Vic Reeves, Harry Hill, Johnny Vegas, Phill Jupitus, David Baddiel, Jerry Sadowitz and Keith Allen.”
In the ten years since Malcolm’s death, his funeral has been oft-talked about but never repeated. Well, one doesn’t with funerals.
As comedy critic Kate Copstick is still stranded in Kenya with a non-functional computer and a dodgy mobile phone, the Grouchy Club Podcast this week has posted the uncut audio of Malcolm’s funeral service. It includes tributes by Jo Brand, Jools Holland, Stewart Lee and Arthur Smith and lasts 75 extraordinary minutes – especially extraordinary because the laughter, cheers and applause are happening during a church service. The running order is:
Hymn: All Things Bright and Beautiful
Hymn: For Those in Peril on The Sea
Frank Hardee (Malcolm’s son)
Arthur Smith & Vicar
Quotations from, among others, Deke De Core, Steve Frost, Alex Hardee, Clare Hardee, Chris Luby, Martin Potter, ‘Sir Ralph’, Arthur Smith, Martin Soan and Paul ‘Wizo’ Wiseman
Coffin out (worth listening to)
This year, the three annual increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards given in his memory…
…will be announced and presented during the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show – two hours of bizarre and original variety – in the Ballroom of The Counting House in Edinburgh on Friday 28th August, 2300-0100.
The judges this year are:
Comperes Miss Behave and Janey Godley will host the bizarre and original variety acts and the World Egg Throwing Federation will supervise the Scottish National Russian Egg Roulette Championships featuring star comedy names.
On YouTube, there is a 10-minute video tribute to Malcolm, produced by Karen Koren: