The Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe are all about originality. This blog is a lazy re-hash of a piece I wrote last year.
But, as Malcolm would have said – indeed, often did say – “Fuck it! It don’t matter. There are people starving in Africa. Not all over. Round the edge… fish.”
The best way to win an Award and to honour Malcolm’s memory would be to either steal one or to ‘lend’ me £500 and not expect to get it back but, whatever your angle, the first thing is to know is what the awards actually are.
There are three and they are given in memory of the late Malcolm Hardee.
He was, according to The Guardian, the “patron sinner of alternative comedy, renowned for his outrageous stunts”.
The Daily Telegraph called him “godfather to a generation of comic talent” and, in their 2005 obituary, the Independent said he was “the greatest influence on British comedy over the last 25 years”.
The last quote must be totally true because I wrote the obituary myself and included that phrase on the basis that future lazy journalists would simply blindly copy it.
But it is arguably entirely true.
The current three annual, increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards are:
THE MALCOLM HARDEE AWARD FOR COMIC ORIGINALITY
Basically, the judges have no idea what we are looking for. If we did know what we were looking for, we would be able to define it and it would not be original. The award is for a performer not for a show and anyone who approaches me touting a “family friendly” children’s show is way wide-of-the-mark. Malcolm was known for having the biggest bollocks in show business and for showing them to everyone. On stage, his habit of getting his knob out at the drop of a testicle was not ideal BBC1 primetime material.
If you are family friendly and mainstream, don’t even think of trying for the award.
If your act is literally incomparable – i.e. it is impossible to compare it with anyone else’s – then you could be onto a winner.
This automatically means that someone standing at a microphone telling brilliant gags has no chance unless there is something odd in the characterisation or delivery – simultaneously juggling a mixture of babies, kittens and blancmange might give you a chance. But it’s still basically stand-up comedy. I have seen it before. Likewise most sketch comedy (which also has the disadvantage of multiple performers).
Past winners of the award have been Reggie Watts, Doktor Cocacolamcdonalds, Edward Aczel, Otto Kuhnle, Robert White, Johnny Sorrow, The Rubberbandits, Adrienne Truscott, Candy Gigi, Michael Brunström and, last year, Mr Twonkey.
THE ACT MOST LIKELY TO MAKE A MILLION QUID AWARD
The title says it all, really.
The judges have to take a wild punt on who may survive the vagaries of – and triumph over the good and bad luck inherent in – a comedy career to attain seldom-attained financial success.
There is no point anyone approaching us to suggest themselves. If we think you are likely to fulfil the future requirement and win it, that’s our call, not yours.
Past winners have been Bo Burnham, Benet Brandreth, Trevor Noah, Luisa Omielan, Laurence Owen and ’The Baby’.
I voted against the last one. The others argued that, by the time he was grown up and died, due to inflation, £1 million would be equivalent to £10 today.
THE CUNNING STUNT AWARD
This is the one the press like. It is for the best CUNNING stunt promoting a Fringe performer or act or show.
Pay close attention to the inclusion of the word ‘cunning’.
Riding an elephant painted pink down Princes Street and inviting the press to see it is a stunt but it is not a cunning stunt.
This award was started when comic Gill Smith sent me an email saying she was nominating herself for the Malcolm Hardee Award on the basis that her email to me allowed her to legitimately put on her posters and flyers MALCOLM HARDEE AWARD NOMINEE. She said she thought Malcolm would have approved. I thought he would too and started the award.
The winners have been:
GILL SMITH – for that initial piece of chutzpah.
LEWIS SCHAFFER – for convincing several publications that he was the new sponsor of the (formerly Perrier) Edinburgh Comedy Awards for £99 and that his mother and agent would be on the judging panel.
STEWART LEE – for successfully encouraging people to vote for little-known Japanese act Frank Chickens in a poll for Best Fringe Performer despite the fact they were not performing at the Fringe. (As a result of the publicity, ironically, they did end up performing at that year’s Fringe.)
KUNT & THE GANG/BOB SLAYER – for getting fans to put stickers depicting penises on the posters of rival acts to promote Kunt & The Gang’s show. Personally, I never liked the original stunt but Bob Slayer, Kunt’s promoter, kept the publicity stoked-up and refreshed for so long in so many ways it became a work of PR art.
STUART GOLDSMITH – for a series of YouTube videos about Fringe censorship of the title of his show Prick.
BARRY FERNS – for printing and distributing around Edinburgh fake copies of Broadway Baby which gave his show 6-out-of-5 star reviews and reported that his show had been nominated for the Fosters Comedy Awards, in both the main category and the newcomer category.
CHRISTIAN TALBOT – for using his 12-year-old daughter Kate to go up to strangers in the street, looking sad, ask them “Have you seen my daddy?” and, when they said “No”, handing out flyers to them.
MATT ROPER – for hacking into the Facebook account of Malcolm Hardee judge & Scotsman reviewer Kate Copstick and posting fake messages – purportedly from her – “bigging himself up”.
BECKY FURY – for putting on Tinder her Fringe flyer in an attempt to lure lustful males to her show… and claiming on her publicity that she was a ‘Last Minute Comedy finalist’ – implying it was for the Lastminute.com Comedy Awards (the former Perrier Awards) when, in fact, it was for a little-known Hertfordshire comedy club contest
The judges for this year’s Increasingly Prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards are:
Freelance arts journalist/comedy critic for The List, Fest, Chortle etc.
Chief Comedy Critic of The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday.
Comedy Critic of London Evening Standard; editor of beyondthejoke.co.uk.
Co-host (with Kate Copstick) of the increasingly prestigious Grouchy Club.
Freelance journalist for Scotsman, Guardian, Sunday Times, Channel 4 etc.
Freelance journalist, reviewer and feature writer for The Scotsman.
The Increasingly Prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show takes place in the ballroom of The Counting House in Edinburgh on Friday 25th August as part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival.
The two-hour bizarre variety show will include the announcement and presentation of this year’s awards and the annual Scottish National Russian Egg Roulette contest.
The show is free. You cannot buy tickets in advance. You have to queue. Life is a bitch. Live with it.