So who do the rising generation of British teenagers look up to as role models?
Mother Theresa? David Beckham? Justin Bieber?
Last week, I got an e-mail from 16-year-old Lyle Russell in Glasgow:
Lyle Russell with his blown-up poster
“I am a big fan of the late great Malcolm Hardee,” it said. Malcolm’s book I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake is my favourite book of all time. It’s wonderful and a work of art.”
Lyle had got a photograph of one of the Malcolm Hardee Award Show posters, then got it developed and enlarged at his local Tesco photo department. He normally has it displayed on the wall by his piano.
The idea that a 16-year-old Glaswegian would be a big fan of Malcolm Hardee intrigued me, as I was not aware Malcolm was known by anyone under about 35 in Glasgow. So I asked Lyle how he had heard of the late great man.
“I first heard of Malcolm when Jo Brand mentioned him on television,” he told me.
“The story Jo told was very funny, so I researched Malcolm.
“I read a few articles on him. He seemed a fantastic character and was very interesting. I watched a few YouTube videos of him performing and thought he was brilliant! I then bought his book I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake – Best book I’ve ever read. Full of great stories.
“I’ve chosen Malcolm as one of my favourite comics as he has the power to capture an audience’s attention. He controls the show. His stories do not drag on. There is no-one just like him. He’s a one-off genius.
“I’ve never been to one of his shows (as I was fairly young when he passed away). My dad’s a big comedy fan as well. He remembers Malcolm’s famous balloon dance, but never really got into his work.
“None of my friends or the rest of my family had heard of Malcolm.”
Some people, I suggested, might think Malcolm was a bit risqué for a 16 year-old.
“Yeah!” Lyle told me. “Some of Malcolm’s stuff can be a bit sordid. However Malcolm is different from lots of other comedians. He uses his material appropriately, at the right times, in the right places.”
I must admit this came as a bit of a surprise for me.
“A wonderful work of art,” says Lyle
“For instance,” Lyle told me, “a comedian such as Frankie Boyle would come on stage or come on TV and swear, be racist, mock the disabled etc. But Malcolm’s performing skills and material is something much more than that.”
I certainly wanted to hear more.
“He would charm his audience,” Lyle told me, “be rude, but in a humorous manner.
“Other greats such as Dick Emery, Rik Mayall and Bob Monkhouse could be rude but warm on stage. So Malcolm’s not so different in that sense.
“My top comic list would probably contain: Malcolm Hardee, Rik Mayall, Jerry Sadowitz, Dermot Morgan, Dawn French, Brian Limond (Limmy), David Croft, Harry Enfield, Kathy Burke, Larry David, Steve Coogan, Sam Bain, Mitchell & Webb, Eric Chappell, David Nobbs, and Derren Litten. A mixed bunch!
Gobshite was recorded when Malcolm Hardee managed Jerry
“I’ve got Jerry Sadowitz’s LP Gobshite,” Lyle told me. “I love his shows as well, The Pall Bearer’s Revue and The People vs Jerry Sadowitz. Seen every episode of them.
“I’ve got another live show on CD that he did at the Edinburgh Fringe. He’s also an incredibly talented magician. I can do a few of his card tricks.”
So there we have it. The role models for at least one of the rising generation of British teenagers… Mother Theresa? David Beckham? Justin Bieber?
Malcolm Hardee and Jerry Sadowitz.
“Are you interested doing comic things yourself?” I asked Lyle.
“I’d like to write a sitcom or sketch show,” he told me. “I have many ideas I’d like to try out. Comedy’s something I’ve always been attached too; it’s something I’d love to do… I am thinking of setting up my own blog. I thought it would be a good idea, since I am a huge comedy fan, nosey and love talking to people.”
Oh good grief! I thought. Competition!