NB NOT FOR THE EASILY OFFENDED
Michael Brunström won the increasingly prestigious main Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality at the recent Edinburgh Fringe but, by the time it was awarded, he had finished his run and was back in London. So I gave him the trophy last night.
I gave it to him shortly before a Pull the Other One comedy night at the mis-named CLF Art Cafe in the Bussey Buildings, Peckham.
The CLF Art Cafe is mis-named because it is really a large dance hall (and used as such at weekends) in a vast rambliing building which used to be, among other things, a Victorian sweatshop and an armaments factory. Pull The Other One are running four not-quite-monthly variety nights there between now and March, as well as their monthly comedy nights in nearby Nunhead and – perhaps – more shows in Leipzig.
Vivienne and Martin Soan run Pull The Other One and put up 200 posters plugging the new show, but almost all disappeared quickly. This might have been due to heavy rain or because “It’s posters war round here,” as Martin says. “It’s very much like the Edinburgh Fringe. People ripping down your posters to put theirs up. It’s all happening here.”
“Peckham?” I asked. “Home of Only Fools and Horses and Del Boy?”
“You know it is,” said Martin.
Martin had been going to perform with The Greatest Show On Legs at the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show in Edinburgh – actually titled Aaaaaaaaaaaaarrghhh! It’s The Increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show – And It’s Free! but, instead, had to be in London for the premiere of Steve Oram’s new film entitled Aaaaaaah!
There’s been a lot of Aaaaaahsing about lately.
There is a trailer for Aaaaaaah! on YouTube.
“I’ve got a tiny cameo role in the movie,” Martin told me last night. “Two brief shots of me as a has-been rockstar in his underpants singing at a coked-up party.”
“Has Aaaaaaah!,” I asked, “got naked women and armadillos?’
“Yes,” said Martin, then added, “well, I’m lying about the armadillos. But it has naked women and a lot of action and graphic violence – but not gratuitous. And, in it, Steve has created this TV world for them to watch.”
“Like?” I asked.
“Cookery programmes, but done in the genre – without giving the game away – of the whole premise of the movie. There are just so many elements to it.”
“Is it even odder than his previous film Sightseers?” I asked.
“Extremely odd, but brilliant.”
“Much like Michael Brunström,” I said.
Well, no, I did not say that.
But I have to cover over the half hour gap between the above conversation with Martin and me giving Michael Brunström his Malcolm Hardee Award.
“You will be wanting to say you are deeply honoured,” I told Michael.
“I’m deeply honoured,” said Michael. “Last year, I did ten shows and got nominated for the Award. This year, I did six shows and won it. Next year, I’m thinking of not turning up at all.”
“Where are you going to put your Award?” I asked. “Laurence Owen put his on a shelf next to two small Daleks.”
“I have a bookshelf,” said Michael. “Are you only running the Awards until 2017?”
“Well,” I said, “In 2007, I only had eleven years’ worth of trophies made. So I run out of them in 2017.”
“After that,” suggested Michael, “you should just steal trophies and palm them off as Malcolm Hardee Awards.”
“You’re right,” I said, brightening up. “It would be a fitting tribute and it’s what he would have wanted.”
At that point, Brian Damage arrived for his performance.
Well, no, he did not.
But I have to cover over the gap between the conversation with Michael above and Brian talking about my newly-grown beard.
“You should think ZZ Top,” he told me. “What you got now is just bum fluff. Think of a beard as a straight line down to your waist. It catches food. You will never go hungry.”
As he said this, Spencer Jones arrived.
No. You are right. He did not. But, later, he told me about his bad drive back from the Edinburgh Fringe on Tuesday.
“I didn’t just have babies in the car,” he explained. “I had budgerigars and, because the budgies were in the back, I couldn’t recline my seat and have a quick hour’s sleep in that long 12-hour drive back to London. So I had four Red Bulls and two large coffees. Yesterday – the day after – was weird.”
“You took your budgies up to the Fringe?” I asked.
“What did the budgies have to say about that?”
“They twittered on for a while, but they were OK about it. I nearly took them on stage up in Edinburgh. I thought Who’s ever taken budgies on stage? But I realised it would freak them out.”
“I had,” I told Spencer, “a budgerigar act on a couple of TV shows I did.”
“I think his name was Don…” said Spencer.
“Don Crown,” I said. “I met him six or seven years later and he was a broken man: he had become allergic to feathers. His act had been destroyed by an act of God.”
“I think he had a song,” said Spencer, “which we used to sing in our house: Budgie Man... He’s the Budge-Budge-Budgie Man…”
There is a video on YouTube featuring Don Crown and his budgies.
“Do your budgies speak?” I asked.
“No,” said Spencer. “They fly around the house.”
“Shitting everywhere,” agreed Spencer.
“Much like children,” I suggested.
“Yeah,” agreed Spencer. “The reason I bought the first budgie was that, before my girlfriend and me had kids, I wanted to see if me and Ruth would get on looking after a little life. So I bought a budgie without telling her and we got on fine, so then we had kids. But then the budgie needed a friend. I had bought it thinking it was a boy, but it wasn’t. So we had a girl budgie called Ernie and we bought another one called Dirk.”
“Is it possible to ‘doctor’ male budgerigars?” I asked.
“I doubt if anyone’s ever tried.”
“Otherwise they’d breed all over the place,” I said.
“I think you have to have a very high calcium diet,” said Spencer.
“The owner?” I asked.
“The budgerigars,” said Spencer. “Though I do have quite a high calcium diet and have two kids.”
This morning, I looked up Don Crown and found recent YouTube clips of him with his budgies.
So either I imagined meeting him after he became allergic to feathers or he got over it.
Perhaps I have started hallucinating past events. But who has to?
This morning, I got an email from this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith. It said:
A man in Kelowna, British Columbia, has grown the world’s largest cucumber which he is planning on turning into the world’s largest pickle and he is wondering if anybody is making the worlds largest hot dog.
Michael Brunström also posted a photo of himself online this morning, holding the Malcolm Hardee Award.