I am organising Malcolm Hardee Week at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, in memory of the late, great godfather of British alternative comedy who drowned in 2005 – all proceeds go to the Mama Biashara charity run by Scotsman critic and Malcolm Hardee Awards judge Kate Copstick.
As part of Malcolm Hardee Week, on Friday 26th August, there will be a two-hour variety show to celebrate Malcolm’s memory which will include the announcement of the three annual Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards.
Previous Malcolm Hardee tribute shows have included Jo Brand, Jimmy Carr, Omid Djalili, Janey Godley, Hattie Hayridge, John Hegley, Richard Herring, Jools Holland, Phil Kay, Stewart Lee, Simon Munnery, Phil Nichol, Arthur Smith and Johnny Vegas.
We are not announcing who is on this year’s bill until nearer the time but the two comperes for the evening – you read it first here – will be cabaret legend Miss Behave – star of Olivier Award winning show La Clique – and the Third Reich’s favourite crooner Frank Sanazi – he is, according to The Scotsman, one of the “Top 20 Comedians to Catch” at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
For those who have not experienced Frank Sanazi, he sings like Frank Sinatra but looks like Adolf Hitler. Classic songs on his album Mein Way on a Steinway include Third Reich and Strangers on My Flight (about the 9/11 attacks) – and let’s not even mention The Guy From Al-Quieda (featuring Osama Bing Crosby).
You might think one place it could be problematical for Frank Sanazi to play would be Germany, especially as there have long been legal problems impersonating or representing Hitler on stage… well, you tend to get arrested.
But Frank played three gigs in Berlin last year.
His opening words in Berlin were:
“Nice to be back…”
“The locals were a bit shocked at first,” he tells me, “but then I added I know what you’re thinking… This guy looks like Charlie Chaplin and, when they realised it was all parody, they really got into the swing of it. One man even asked if I would consider performing for his company’s annual office party… though he did later phone, embarrassed, to say that his company directors didn’t share his sense of humour.
“By and large, anyone who says Germans don’t have a sense of humour or irony is severely mistaken as I never encountered a single adverse reaction or comment.”
“Well, OK…” he admits, “I must admit that, at my first gig in Berlin, there were a few stunned elders who didn’t really know what to make of me. But they kept a dignified silence apart from one older German lady who had a noticeable sharp intake of breath when I appeared. But maybe she was asthmatic…”
“All three gigs in Berlin were really well received,” Frank tells me. “However, my run in a cabaret show in Munich this October has been cancelled. The promoter thinks the locals in Munich would not take kindly to reminders of their past. As an act of protest, I have arranged to do a show on top of The Brandenburg Gate in October…
“No, I haven’t really but – seriously – I am back in Berlin in early October.”
So is he looking forward to the Malcolm Hardee Awards Show at the Edinburgh Fringe?
“Heil yes,” he says and waves goodbye to me with a cheerily raised hand.