Every year, as the Fringe starts, I fear there will be no stunt worthy of a Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award. But, every year, they come rolling in.
This morning, I bumped into Mark Dean Quinn at Fringe Central where he had noticed a box where people disposed of un-needed sheets of paper on which were printed review quotes and star ratings for their shows.
“I have just decided,” he told me, holding a pile of discarded photocopies, “that, if people are going to throw away their stars and quotes, I am going to staple them to my own flyers.”
“Isn’t that dishonest?” I asked.
“No,” he told me. “These ARE real reviews of real shows, though admittedly not of my show. And these are clearly not real flyers.”
“Says who?” I asked. “They say Mark Dean Quinn on them.”
“In my opinion,” insisted Mark, “If it is under 90 GSM, it is not a flyer.”
“What is GSM?” I asked.
“Grams per square metre,” he replied.
When I left Fringe Central, he had ensnared fellow performer Narin Oz into his dastardly plan.
Later, I received an email from performer Martha McBrier, allegedly explaining what has not yet been generally called Didgeridoogate.
She plays the didgeridoo in her Edinburgh Fringe show.
I read her email, then went and had a long, relaxing lie-down.
This is her email in its entirety:
I am writing with a view to nomination for the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award. I would like to nominate the following quartet of mischief; Martha McBrier, Matt Price, Bruce Dessau and Martin Walker.
The timeline to this stunt is as follows:
FRIDAY 4th August
Martha McBrier messages John Fleming, seemingly, awful, awful upset, telling him that she has received an unpleasant message telling her that playing the didgeridoo and even being photographed with same, is tantamount to hugely insulting the culture of First Nation Australians.
Fleming believed this to be an ‘exclusive’, but McBrier had cunningly messaged Bruce Dessau (of Beyond The Joke & a Malcolm Hardee Award judge), Kate Copstick (of The Scotsman newspaper & a Malcolm Hardee Award judge) and Steve Bennett (of Chortle).
Fleming mentions to Matt Price (my partner and loveable giant, Cornish comedian) that he suspects this may be a cunning stunt.
SATURDAY 5th August
Although he usually writes about much younger women, Fleming writes a blog, with the ‘Carry on Indigenous Australia’-style title Female Comic Accused of Blowing a Male Instrument.
SUNDAY 6th August
Bruce Dessau writes about the incident in Beyond the Joke.
Mr Dessau asks me for an update. I tell him that Mr Fleming believes it to be a Cunning Stunt.
MONDAY 7th August
Steve Bennett writes on Chortle about the incident, tragically stealing Dessau’s ‘Didgeri-don’t’ headline.
TUESDAY 8th August
McBrier records Martin Walker’s On The Mic podcast. Talk turns to ‘Didgeridoo-gate’.
Mr Walker, his eyes all twinkly, says: “Wouldn’t it be dead funny for us to cunning stunt Fleming, stating it’s a cunning stunt when it really isn’t? This would be totally different from other stunts as it’s a true thing, kidding-on it’s a false thing. We let Fleming think it’s a cunning stunt and, like a right wally, he blogs that it is. Then we will announce that it’s true and not a stunt. It is double dunt cunning stunt. I will also get my pal Dessau in on it.”
We all laughed.
But Martin was true to his word and Fleming was fished right in.
Matt Price was the liaison between Dessau and Walker and they plotted and giggled like schoolgirls.
Walker played Fleming, ensuring his eyes were twinkle-free, so as not to arouse suspicion.
WEDNESDAY 9th August
Fleming, like a right daftie, blogs that ‘Didgeridoo-gate’ is a cunning stunt.
You must surely see the opportunistic brilliance of this double-dunt stunt. Especially considering that McBrier and Price have no PR and have not, hitherto, been on the radar of Bruce Dessau. He pure knows them now.
How fitting it would be that a Malcolm Hardee Awards judge (Fleming) has been stunted by a group which includes a fellow judge (Dessau).