Edinburgh Fringe, Day 20, Part 2: Bicycles, drugs, time travel, Ken Dodd.

Bicycle-related news at the Fringe today was two-fold.

Increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award judge and Scotsman comedy reviewer Claire Smith – currently in Edinburgh – has just found out that the wheels of her bicycle have been stolen in Brighton.

Henning Wehn has plans to avoid a kerfuffle

And I bumped into German comic Henning Wehn, who has bought a bike to get around Edinburgh more easily. This strikes me as a tad masochistic given the hills and cobbles of Auld Reekie.

“What are you going to do with the bike at the end of the Fringe?” I asked.

“Take it back to London by train,” Henning replied but then added, thoughtfully, “though that may cause a bit of a kerfuffle. Maybe I will ride it all the way back to London.”

I suggested he might end up in hospital. He did not seem to mind.

Which is exactly what happened today to comic Phil Chippendale.

Not a reflection on his head: it’s a bandage

He arrived at the Grouchy Club with a large plaster on his head, telling us that he had been to hospital for four stitches after being hit by an irate punter because he had said something about Donald Trump. The truth turned out to be more mundane – Everyone’s a Cunning Stunter – He had hit his head on the step of a bunk bed.

He should have gone to see Benji Waterstones, as I did.

Benji is a junior doctor and his Ayahuasca Diaries show was so packed with people that I suspect there may be a surge in births in nine months time.

Benji’s search for a healing hallucinogenic

Which may be part of a cunning job creation scheme for Benji’s paediatric mates.

He himself is a psychiatrist – so Edinburgh in August must be the perfect busman’s holiday for him. He describes himself as “a northern psychiatrist  struggling to adjust to life in London. When I  moved to the capital three years ago, instead of  sorting out my issues I started writing jokes about them”.

His show is about a trip he made to Peru in search of a healing hallucinogenic so strong that just one dose has been likened to 15 years of therapy.

If that doesn’t hook you on him, nothing will.

The Time Machine screams stage success

The other stand-out show today for me was H.G.Wells’ The Time Machine, turned into a musical by 2015’s Malcolm Hardee ‘Act Most Likely To Make a Million Quid’ Award winner Laurence Owen with his wife Lindsay Sharman.

On the basis of this show, we were right in our Million Quid choice.

This show just screams West End and Broadway success. It was written and directed by Lindsay with music by Laurence. There is already a CD available.

Also in the audience for the show was Stephen O’Donnell, marketing guru, general factotum at the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards show and web developer to comedians and thespians at large.

He told me what he said was an oft-repeated and allegedly true story that Ken Dodd’s signature song Happiness was an intentional joke, the joke being when you dropped the ‘H’ in the lyrics of Happiness and sang it as ‘appiness, ‘appiness. As in…

A penis, a penis, the greatest gift that I posses
I thank the Lord I’ve been blessed
With more than my share of a penis

A penis to me is an ocean tide
Or a sunset fading on a mountain side
Or maybe a big old heaven full of stars up above
When I’m in the arms of the one I love

A penis is a field of grain
Lifting its face to the falling rain
I can see it in the sunshine, I breathe it in the rain
A penis everywhere

A wise old man told me one time
That a penis is nothing but a frame of mind
I hope when you go to measuring my success
That you don’t count my money count a penis

A penis, a penis, the greatest gift that I posses
I thank the Lord I’ve been blessed
With more than my share of a penis

Eric Sykes (left) and Spike Milligan in TV’s Curry and Chips.

Even though it was a different era. I am still not sure I believe this – Everyone’s a Cunning Stunter – so I referred the matter to critic Kate Copstick, who definitively said it was just an urban myth. And she knows about such things.

I think it would be good if it could be true, though.

When in doubt, print the myth or, even if there is no doubt and it’s definitely bollocks, if it’s funny, print the myth with a proviso.

Stephen also told me his reactions on recently seeing Curry and Chips, a 1969 Johnny Speight scripted TV series in which Spike Milligan ‘blacks up’ as an Asian immigrant named Kevin O’Grady.

This was, indeed, another era and Stephen suggested” “Watch the show if you’re looking for a comedy squirm”.

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