Tag Archives: Phil Zimmerman

Seeing the Noize with Phil Zimmerman at London’s most extraordinary party

Spaceheads album

Phil Zimmerman at the party last night.

Phil Zimmerman watches the music at the party last night.

Last night, I went to comedian Phil Zimmerman and (I guess you could call him) musical anarchist Nigel Noize’s annual Guy Fawkes Night party in West Ealing. the fact it was nine days after Guy Fawkes’ night is but a minor detail.

It takes place in the small back garden of a very ordinary terraced suburban house.

Well, it would be ordinary except for the fact that the back garden, the loft and most of the rest of the house appears to be a replica of the Glastonbury Festival.

I do not mean a smaller, cut-down version of Glastonbury. I mean the whole of the Glastonbury Festival stuffed into a small terraced house in Ealing.

There is a video shot last night of the loft (with sound) on YouTube.

I blogged about this annual ‘Happening’ last year and this year it was much the same vision of a surreal parallel universe. But with the added delight of music by The Spaceheads – trumpeter Andy Diagram with a drummer – although it sounded like a full orchestra – a combination of looping and using the iPhone attached to his trumpet.

Andy plays in the band James and, last night, The Spaceheads were playing music from their new album A Short Ride on the Arrow of Time.

The billing for this Guy Fawkes party – yes, there was a billing for it – ran:

Nigel Noize records the festivities on his smartphone

Nigel Noize listens to the sights on his phone

This is possibly the most extraordinary house party in London. Live entertainment, music, comedy, film, poetry etc…BBQ, bonfire, firework spectacular, video disco on giant screens in the garden, fun n frolics till the early hours… Become part of the world’s longest music video ‘Time on Acid’ in the loft, or stumble on something strange in the basement… It’s all the masterwork of Nigel Noize, who has turned his house into a weird and wonderful art object, surely a candidate for the Turner Prize!

That is possibly an under-statement.

There is a short clip of part of one of The Spaceheads’ performances last night on YouTube. But, more than usual, the phrase You had to be there rings true.

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I met actor Telly Savalas last night after comic Phil Zimmerman’s anarchic party

Phil Zimmerman (right) with Nigel Noize last night

Phil Zimmerman (right) with Nigel Noize last night

This blog was written earlier. Obviously. Otherwise you could not be reading it now.

I met Telly Savalas last night. Not a lookalike but the real Telly Savalas who used to be on TV as Kojak and who was in The Dirty Dozen. It happened after I went to the annual Guy Fawkes Night party at comedian Phil Zimmerman’s home in West Ealing, London. The house has its own website. Apparently the party – organised by Nigel Noize – has been running annually for 14 years.

There is a video shot in the house on YouTube.

At the end of the suburban garden was a mini Glastonbury Festival tower with two giant screens playing random film clips and music videos. Nigel Noize aims to turn the garden into a “huge, complex, art-installation which will eventually be entered for the Turner Prize“.

Phil Zimmerman’s bak garden

Nigel Noize & Phil Zimmerman’s back garden

On my iPhone recording, the first thing audible amid the loud rock music is Phil Zimmerman saying:

“Jenny Eclair on the 21st November at the No 5 club downstairs at the Drayton in Ealing.”

He wanted me to mention it.

“Why should people come and see that?” I asked.

“Because I’m MCing,” replied Phil, “and you never know what could happen.”

“Is it monthly?” I asked.

Phil Zimmerman’s Ealing club plug

Phil Zimmerman’s Ealing comedy club plug

“Yeah, sort of. It’s on various Fridays.”

“You have,” I asked, “more than one comedy club?”

“Yeah,” said Phil, “I’ve lost count of how many clubs I have.”

“How many?” I asked.

“Two.”

“Are they all regular?” I asked.

“Yeah. Except when the second one goes off for four months or six months.”

“Where’s that?”

“Faversham in Kent.”

The fireworks started off in the back garden

The fireworks started off in the back garden

Phil and I were standing beside a row of rockets stuck in the ground about two feet from a roaring bonfire beside a sunken bathtub. Last year, the bathtub had water in it; this year there was some earth.

“About three years ago at one of these Guy Fawkes Night parties,” I said, struggling to make myself heard above the loud rock music, “a neighbour decided to take pot shots with an air rifle at people in your back garden. Are the neighbours any happier now?”

“Yeah,” said Phil. “They generally seem to like it quite a lot apart from when they come round and start banging on the door with a hammer.”

I went into Nigel Noize’s toilet - perhaps foolishly

I maybe foolishly went into Nigel Noize’s toilet

“Do they hammer on the door on the night of the party,” I asked, “or all year long?”

“It could happen at any time. We had a very loud band playing in the loft last year or the year before at 2.00am and a neighbour took a dislike to it and arrived on the scene with a hammer. But we had a very tall security man who persuaded him not to use it.”

“Was this the year after the air rifle incident?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s all scrambled up now,” said Phil.

At this point, a girl in a red pullover asked us: “Is Nigel there?”

Phil Zimmerman’s loft

The girl in the red pullover slept amid this – with added music

“I don’t know where he is,” Phil said and, when she had gone, told me: “That young lady there was living in the loft for a while.”

“With the band?” I asked.

“With,” Phil explained, “the 24-hour music video going on. She was living up there and it was the maddest thing. I came home from holiday and I thought the house had been bombed and burgled because of the disarray. Can you imagine someone who can actually live in that loft with that noise going on.”

There is a video giving some hint of life in the loft on YouTube.

“That stuffed figure in the corner of the garden,” I said. “Is that Tom Baker as Doctor Who?”

“That’s Jeremy Paxman,” said Phil. “He’s going on the fire later.”

Back garden bath (left), fire (right), rockets (back)

Suburban back garden bath, fire and rockets

“These rockets that we are standing by next to the bonfire that’s throwing sparks everywhere,” I said. “Are all the rockets going to go off at one time?”

“Well,” said Phil, “we’ve got this madman in charge of the fireworks. And he’s mad. Usually what happens is people start running, terrified, when it starts – dodging the rockets.”

“When does this happen?” I asked.

“What, the rockets?” asked Phil. “Well, it could happen any time. The bath was on fire earlier, but it’s stopped now. The bath is a bit scorched.”

“What time does this party finish?” I asked.

“Usually about Tuesday,” said Phil.

About 90 seconds later, some of the rockets started going off.

Which brings me to Telly Savalas.

Telly Savalas in a 1973 publicity pic for Kojak

Telly Savalas in a 1973 publicity pic for Kojak

I had gone to chat for this blog to a woman who works in an advertising agency. There was some big ‘do’ at their offices. She was difficult to talk to and, somehow we found ourselves sitting next to Telly Savalas.

“I’m sorry,” I told him, “I don’t mean to be rude, but I thought you were dead.”

He laughed.

The three of us went off to a Starbucks coffee shop by a bridge. There was some very loud collision of vehicles outside and, when we looked out the window, there was sand everywhere.

“We use it to make the coffee,” said the bloke who made the coffee for this particular branch of Starbucks.

Telly Savalas’ head was a slightly different shape to what it had looked like before. He looked less like Telly Savalas than before because, of course, he was not. Telly Savalas died in 1994 and, throughout this blog, whenever I typed in ‘Telly Savalas’, the Apple spellcheck has changed it to ‘Telly Savages’.

Phil Zimmerman’s loft

After all this came the surprise meeting with Telly Savalas

Meeting Telly Savages – you see what I mean?

Meeting Telly Savalas was a dream I had when I was asleep after I came home from Phil Zimmerman’s – or, rather Nigel Noize’s – Guy Fawkes Night party.

I very rarely remember my dreams, so I tend to write them down. In this case, the surreality of the party blended in with the dream when I woke up at 6.30am – two hours before my alarm went off.

But the Guy Fawkes Night party at No 67 was real and meeting Telly Savages – you see what I mean – meeting Telly Savalas was a dream. At least I think both those things are true.

"Ever drifting down the stream. Lingering in the golden gleam..." (by Lewis Carroll - Photograph by M-E-U-N-F)

“Ever drifting down the stream. Lingering in the golden gleam…” (by Lewis Carroll – Photograph by M-E-U-N-F)

Certainly Jenny Eclair is performing at one of Phil Zimmerman’s irregular regular clubs on 21st November.

He wanted me to tell you that.

I have.

Now I am going back to sleep.

This blog was written earlier.

Not just earlier than when you are reading it. Earlier than posting it online. I went back to sleep and then woke up again.

At least, I think I have.

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A £60 government cheque and “for the second year running, no-one got shot”

Was a German allowed to live in one of these houses in 1987?

Was a German allowed to live in one of these houses in 1987?

I am staying with my eternally-un-named friend’s friend Rudiger in Nuremberg. In the 1980s, he lived in London and remembers one particular house.

“It was 15 Ronalds Road,” he told us. “A little street just up from the Holloway Road in London.”

“And you were squatting there?” I asked.

“I was young,” explained Rudiger. “I knew your eternally-un-named friend… and London was the place to be in 1987.”

“It was?” I asked.

“Two of my German friends,” said Rudiger, “they were a boy and a girl. They went to London and squatted in the house; I came after them a week later and, when I arrived in the house, it was the day they decided to split up. They went back to Germany and I stayed in this house alone.

“They split up because the girl met a photographer in London. He gave her a job and threw her out of the house at the same time, because she could then get Social Security payments from the state. I think it was £60 every month.

“She told me: I will be getting this £60 and, when the cheque comes, go to the post office and take the money for yourself.

“That was my first money in England.

“The cheque came. It was written in the girl’s name, but it was a German name and the man in the post office did not realise this. I got the £60 cheque three times and then it stopped coming – I don’t know why.

“Then someone knocked on the door of the house and asked me if I was allowed to live there and I said I don’t know. Am I? and I had to go to a court. There were no people’s names written down – just addresses.

“15 Ronalds Road was on the list and about twenty other roads and numbers, but the only people there in the court were me and a very drunken Scottish man. He was muttering, then the door opened and someone took me into a court and they said 15 Ronalds Road? I said Yes and there were three judges wearing wigs and it was a funny show.

“One asked me: What’s your name? 

Rudiger Schmidt

Are you allowed to live in 15 Ronalds Road?

I don’t know. Tell me.

“The judge said: If you don’t know, then you are not allowed to live there. Thankyou very much. Now, next case… and that was it.

“You had to pay a fine?” I asked.

“No,” said Rudiger. “I asked someone in the court I am not allowed to live there? What shall I do? and the woman said Do nothing. You will get sent a letter and, in this letter, you will be told whether you have to leave or not… And I never got a letter.”

“So how long did you live there?” I asked.

“After this judge told me this,” said Rudiger “I lived there maybe six or seven weeks.”

Phil Zimmerman’s hi-tech bedroom

An angry man with a big hammer objected to what happened

Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, this morning I got a message from comedian Phil Zimmerman in London

I blogged a couple of weekends ago about going to his potentially dangerous annual party. It is held at his mostly-normal-looking house in Ealing, West London.

I say his parties are ‘potentially dangerous’ because, in 2011, a neighbour started taking potshots at the late-night revellers with an air rifle.

I only passed fleetingly through the early section of this year’s party.

“After you left,” he told me this morning, “there was live music on the bedroom stage and a very loud noise band came on at about 1.20 am, whereupon a very angry man with a big hammer appeared at the front door. Fortunately, we had a bigger bouncer there to scare him away. For the second year running, no-one got shot.

“Although I have been involved with these parties for about eight years now, I can’t take any credit for the weird and wonderful set up, which is all the masterwork of my Buddhist mate and landlord Johnny Fags N Booze, aka Nigel Noize – or, as my friend Robert called him, the new Andy Warhol.

“He is planning to enter the house for the Turner Prize at some point.”

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Untold comedy news: Malcolm Hardee links anarchic multi-national mis-prints

I know it is difficult to believe but, occasionally, interesting things happening which never quite make it into my blog.

Phil Zimmerman’s hi-tech bedroom

Comic Phil Zimmerman’s hi-tech bedroom deep in suburbia

After about four years of not being available on the date, I managed last night to go along briefly to one of comedian Phil Zimmerman’s legendary annual parties. It was a cross between a mini-Glastonbury Festival and visiting a post-Apocalyptic version of GCHQ or the NSA, with CCTV all over the place.

During one previous year’s event – in 2011 – an irate neighbour started shooting at participants with an air rifle from a nearby window, causing mass panic in the back garden. When the police arrived, officers apparently spent some considerable time crawling around the garden looking for evidence in the form of pellets

This year, at the door of Phil’s ordinary (sic) suburban house in Ealing, one sign said (including mis-spellings):

Phil Zimmerman’s back garden last night

Phil Zimmerman’s back garden last night had screens & music

SMILE YOUR ON TELLY!

If you can see this sign you’ve been caught on camera & broadcast live on the internet as part of the TIME ON ACID street-interaction noise performance. More info; www.timeonacid.com

A second sign said:

You are also now part of the world’s longest music video which will be entered for the Guiness book of records and Wikipedia – you too are part of history!

I first saw Phil Zimmerman perform at the late Malcolm Hardee’s comedy clubs in, I guess, the 1990s. Phil used to walk across the stage imitating the way that a pigeon walks – with that odd head-jerking movement. As far as I remember, that was pretty much his entire act. It was very enjoyable. Now he runs a monthly comedy club in Faversham and has a series of strange videos on YouTube, including this one:

I caught up with Phil’s annual party this week. but, during this last week, I have NOT shared several things with you.

This blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent Anna Smith sent me this from Vancouver:

Last night  a woman drove into four policemen who were dining at a window table at the Fatburger restaurant on Denman Street, three blocks from my apartment. I heard the commotion: sirens, traffic being redirected by plainclothes police, police supervisors speeding to the scene, ambulances driving slowly away… It was a good thing Matt Roper or Bob Slayer were not sleeping in the doorway. The police got broken bones… nobody died though.

Anna Smith at Car Crash

Anna Smith at this week’s Canadian car crash in Vancouver

Anna is currently working in a bookstore. So she added:

The CBC TV crews were there at the Fatburger restaurant this morning interviewing the locals. They asked me if I would dare to eat on Denman in the future.  I am writing this on my phone at the bookstore which is very um, no computer, no cash register… the owner told me last week LOOK I have gone high tech… I have Post It notes now !!!

Bob Slayer in Leicester last Friday

Bob Slayer as he likes to be seen – now in Sweden

The aforementioned Bob Slayer was also sending me text messages and e-mails this week. He is performing in Sweden and it is worth remembering that he became a comedian because, he says, he read the late Malcolm Hardee’s autobiography I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake.

Here are some of Bob’s messages to me this week (including Swedish mis-spelling):

Tonight in Linköping, I have been billed as SON OF MALCOLM HARDER, THE FAMOUS BALLOON DANCER… by a man who was once The Honey Monster. He should know better.

There is a lady here who was once X-rayed by my mum. Crikey!

Last night’s near death experience involved accidentally cycling onto a Swedish motorway on an old bone shaker of a bike with no lights. Turning back looked fraught so I hopped over the barrier and crossed some wasteland onto another road which unfortunately turned out to be a slip road for a busier bit of motorway flyover. Only one thing for it, push on!

Bob Slayer’s great chocolate find in Sweden

Bob Slayer’s great chocolate find in Sweden

I eventually escaped down an unfinished slip road by climbing down a scaffolding tower (with the bike on my back) into a bus yard. The twenty minutes cycle home became a 2 hour adventure! I’m now in Linköping waiting for more adventures to happen…

I know you like chocolate, so here is the big discovery of my cultural mission to Sweden. (See picture)

Bob Slayer is a past winner of the highly-coveted Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality.

This week I noticed a new Twitter account in the name of Oliver Moore who bills himself as:

Comedy with a smile. 5 times Malcolm Hardee Award nominee. Yet to win.

As far as I know, Oliver Moore is an entirely fictitious stand-up comedian.

Totally untrue but slightly admirable aspiring comedy bullshit

Totally untrue but slightly admirable aspiring comedy bullshit

So I can only assume this Twitter account is some early-started attempt to win next year’s highly-coveted Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award for best publicity stunt at the Edinburgh Fringe.

A reminder here that (real) comedian Gill Smith inspired the Cunning Stunt Award when she e-mailed me to say the purpose of her e-mail was to nominate herself for the Malcolm Hardee Award on the basis that, by doing so, she could legitimately put on her posters MALCOLM HARDEE AWARD NOMINEE because she had nominated herself. She added that she thought the late, great Malcolm would have approved.

I agreed that he would and we decided to give Gill the first Cunning Stunt Award on the basis that, if she did not give her an award, she would only give herself an award anyway but we would not get as much publicity.

Life is strange.

Which is good.

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The Edinburgh Fringe in 2005

I wrote this article for the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain’s magazine UK Writer in 2005.

With this year’s Edinburgh Fringe rapidly approaching, it might be of interest.

Though plus ça change.

_________________________________________________________________________________

LIFE ON THE FRINGE

I saw a tribute to Scottish comedian Chic Murray at the Edinburgh Fringe this year. It was out-of-town in a smallish room in what appeared to be a local housing association care home. It was difficult to find as there were no signs, no placards and the names on the buildings bore little relation to what was in the Fringe Programme.

In that sense, the whole experience epitomised the Fringe: a barely-credible ramshackle affair which, at its best, strays occasionally into fantasy and anarchy.

The man who epitomised the spirit of the Fringe was comedy promoter, club-owner and universally-admired talent spotter Malcolm Hardee. He drowned in January this year in a Rotherhithe dock into which he fell, drunk, happy, with betting shop winnings in his back pocket and, according to the Coroner, still clutching a bottle of his favourite beer.

I run his website – www.malcolmhardee.co.uk – and I am currently available for work via my website – www.thejohnfleming.com.

This blatant piece of self-publicity also epitomises the Fringe. Desperate in-yer-face screaming publicity which attempts to get your voice heard, your posters and flyers glimpsed, your creative work or genius seen despite a market so full of product it’s as if the eleven largest hypermarkets in Britain have had all their groceries accidentally delivered to a one-man corner shop in Bolton.

Every year, within a four-week period in August, more student libidos are pumped to excess, more talentless egos are pumped with cocaine and more genuinely creative people are crushed forever than anywhere else on earth. During the Fringe, Edinburgh is a city of testosterone, bullshit and backstabbing amid dazzling primary colours and unrealistic expectations.

It is also a city of mystery. Why are there two separate shops close to each other in the Royal Mile both selling Christmas decorations and knick-knacks all-the-year-round? Why is there a blackboard fixed to the wall of the gents toilet in the Gilded Balloon basement which says: IN MEMORY OF GAVIN COLQUHOUN – FRIEND OF THE UNION ?

I mostly know the Comedy area, where stand-ups congratulate other stand-ups on their reviews from behind double-glazed smiles, adding, “Of course, it’s only The Scotsman that counts,” or “Of course, The Scotsman doesn’t really count,” depending on their relative numbers of stars and adding, “Good review, but it’s disgraceful he was so condescending to you. You deserved better.”

Writers tend to be immune from most of the worst excesses because the Fringe is a performers’ showcase. As elsewhere, the writer is only noticed if, like Ricky Gervais in The Office, he or she is a writer/performer.

This is a land where comics take their audiences into the toilet to perform because they think it will make them a Fringe legend and/or get them two inches in a newspaper.

Malcolm Hardee became a genuine legend by – while in the nude – driving a fork lift truck through American performance artist Eric Bogosian’s show… followed by his entire audience. PR man Mark Borkowski managed – on two consecutive years – to get acres of outraged newspaper coverage because French ‘Motorbike & Chainsaw Circus’ Archaos were going to juggle turned-on, buzzing and potentially limb-chopping chainsaws as part of their act: something they had reportedly done on the Continent. In fact, they never had and never did juggle chainsaws. It was PR bullshit. But PR bullshit is potent in Edinburgh. Who is to say that Mark Borkowski or Malcolm Hardee were less creative writers of fantasy scenarios than J.K.Rowling? They were not writing for print; instead they were structuring a rather warped, fantastical form of reality.

Betwixt all the spluttering and erratic flickering fairy lights of the performers’ egos and the sweeping searchlights of the normally desperate publicity agents flit the self-important Oxbridge media moths, who are often those most dangerous of creatures – airheads with degrees. With no opinions or tastes of their own they listen, drunk, to ‘the word on the street’ in the Gilded Balloon Library Bar or – far worse – coked out of their heads in the front bar of the George Hotel. They choose to sign acts not on talent-spotting ability but on gossip and who will impress their Soho House friends most.

They all read The Scotsman and The List, the local equivalent of Time Out, because they assume those two publications above all will know what shows to watch. But, of course, The Scotsman is above such things most of the year and The List knows only the acts who regularly play the small, bitchy and incestuous Scottish Lowland comedy scene where talent plays second fiddle to back-stabbing and back scratching.

The Fringe is a case of the blind leading the blind with the Perrier Award selling itself as fizzy water but often turning out to be flat. In recent years, acts of rare originality have been passed over for acts which have created a buzz yet failed to soar when given the chance. Look at a list of recent Perrier winners & nominees and you look at a list of Who Were Theys because the Perrier has got hamstrung by its own rules rather than looking for pure talent.

Until the last weekend of this year’s fun fest, the most un-remarked-on development at the Fringe was the creative rise of the tiny and shabby Holyrood Tavern, a 50-or-so-seater drab room behind a dingy pub at the bottom of the Pleasance hill en route to the old Gilded Balloon and the new Smirnoff Underbelly.

Seldom visited by media moths, only six years ago the Holyrood Tavern used to have naff acts you wouldn’t want to see even when drunk and in a tee-shirt on a rainy day. In the last five years, though, it has been programmed by Vicky de Lacey (female half of the Brian Damage & Krysstal comedy act) and the Holyrood has become a fascinating hotbed of interesting acts – some brilliant, some talented though underdeveloped and some just plain bizarre. Last year, the Holyrood Tavern’s Wil Hodgson won the Perrier Best Newcomer award. This year, their Laura Solon rightly won the prestigious main Perrier award for “Kopfraper’s Syndrome” while, with less of a fanfare, their “Desperately Seeking Sorrow” (Johnny Sorrow & Danny Worthington) was nominated for the new Malcolm Hardee Award.

Vicky De Lacey and Brian Damage run Pear Shaped comedy clubs in London and Sydney and are shaping up as the new Malcolm Hardee, although adding a pair of breasts to his legendary bollocks. They drink, they can spot talent and they run fascinatingly creative bills in shabby venues. Acts that used to play Malcolm’s venues – like the legendary Pigeon Man Phil Zimmerman – are now turning up at Pear Shaped venues.

So, while the media moths are attracted to the brightly coloured and wackily-posed posters of the three (or, with the Underbelly, four) main venues and sign up the Douglas Bader end of the creative spectrum – acts with no legs – the really interesting acts have been passing them by.

It will be interesting to see if this changes next year for two reasons.

One is that Pear Shaped at the Holyrood Tavern have now won major Perrier prizes at two consecutive Fringes. The other is Scots comedienne Janey Godley.

She handed out flyers for her show outside the McTaggart Lecture – the centrepiece of the Edinburgh International Television Festival. And this, again, epitomises the Fringe.

As Janey, a small, feisty Glaswegian in a black tee-shirt – with stomach-cramps and on prescribed steroids after an allergic reaction two days before to raw Japanese fish – touted her show on the steps, she was being physically shoved and brushed aside by the designer-dressed Oxbridge media moths. Turning, she lambasted them for coming to her capital city in her country looking for talent then shoving aside the only performer with the gumption to flyer in the one place where she could get access to all the movers and shakers.

“You could be shoving aside the one person who can get you promoted!” she yelled at them.

At this point, a shirt-sleeved man emerged, looked at the flyer and started helping her to plug her show. She continued to shout, touting her show: “JANEY GODLEY IS INNOCENT – The only Scottish female solo stand-up show on the Fringe!”

A camera crew, filming the good and the great as they emerged from the McTaggart venue instructed her to stop shouting and move out of their way.

“I was here first,” she shouted at them. “You move your fucking camera!”

“She’s not moving,” the shirt-sleeved man told them.

She didn’t move; people started taking her flyers; the shirt-sleeved man took one himself and left. Half an hour later, I got a text message from Janey.

“Who is Greg Dyke?” it asked. “He was a nice man who helped me flyer.”

Janey Godley’s website is www.janeygodley.com

My website is www.thejohnfleming.com

We are both available.

This is the Fringe.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Well, that was the Fringe in 2005.

The Holyrood Tavern has since been ‘modernised’. Pear Shaped no longer runs a venue at the Edinburgh Fringe, though its adventurous London club continues.

The Perrier Awards no longer exist as they keep changing their name.

Janey Godley will not be performing an hour-long show at the Fringe this year – her show The Godley Hour is at the Soho Theatre in London during the final week of the Edinburgh Fringe. But, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe, she will be taking part in one of two new annual Malcolm Hardee Debates on the proposition “Comedians are psychopathic masochists with a death wish” – on Monday 22nd August at The Hive. Details here.

At the Fringe, publicity is all-important.

Remember the wise advice of Max Bialystock.

“When you’ve got it, flaunt it, flaunt it!”

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Filed under Comedy, PR, Scotland, Television, Theatre

Britain’s Got Talent, farts, pigeon impersonators and PR spin

The ghost of Malcolm Hardee still stalks the world of comedy and speciality acts six years after his untimely drowning.

In 2009, my chum Mr Methane – the world’s only professionally performing farter and an oft-time performer at Malcolm’s various clubs – was invited to audition for Britain’s Got Talent on ITV. They did not choose him, perhaps because his farts were unusually smelly that day (they usually don’t smell at all and the act is an odour-free zone). But it was worth the trip as the video on YouTubehas so far got almost seven million hits worldwide and it led to him appearing on and reaching the semi-finals of Das Supertalent – Germany’s Got Talent, despite not being German and having no German connections.

And they say the Germans have no sense of the absurd!

On Britain’s Got Talent, the judges perform just as much as the auditionees – they provide OTT, sometimes cartoony, reactions so there is a supply of good cutaway shots for the edited, transmitted show.

It was good to see another regular Malcolm Hardee club performer – Phil ‘The Pigeon Man’ Zimmerman – making the tabloids yesterday by allegedly terrifying Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden. Getting reported in the Daily Mail is always good news. Especially when they claim you were dressed in a pigeon costume and you weren’t.

According to an ‘audience member’ calling herself Katie Beth who posted on the Digital Spy website, “When the crazy guy was on Amanda looked freaked out and left her seat and spoke to a security guy. Then she went back to her seat only for him to leap off the stage at the end of his ‘performance’. When he jumped off the stage Amanda was straight back out of her seat and stood/hid behind Michael McIntyre who spun his chair round so he was hugging her while security grabbed the crazy man.”

Metro correctly, if less dramatically, reported that Phil had, in fact, only approached the judges to hand out flyers for his comedy club.

And the Chortle website reported that, after the incident, Amanda Holden tweeted on Twitter: “Been possibly the best day we’ve ever had in London for BGT today!! Next week, Manchester here we come!” so I doubt if the lovely Amanda will need too much therapy for post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The spin betwixt truth and publicity is always interesting. But Phil Zimmerman is certainly someone to watch.

I was invited to Phil’s Guy Fawkes Night party last year but couldn’t go – it involved video cameras positioned throughout his house which (as far I remember) were going to stream what was happening inside the house onto the internet. I now wish I had gone. Someone who did go tells me it all ended when an irate neighbour started shooting at the party-goers with an air gun causing mass panic in the garden. When the police eventually arrived, they spent some considerable time crawling around the garden in the dark looking for pellets in the grass…

Phil Zimmerman. The man who brought the Metropolitan Police to its knees.

It sounds almost Hardee-esque in its bizarreness.

On the subject of PR spin and talent, I organise (if that’s the word for it and it probably isn’t) the annual Malcolm Hardee Awards, the real Edinburgh Fringe Awards for comedy. This year, they will be presented during a two-hour stage show on Friday 26th August. Accept no substitutes.

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Filed under Comedy, Newspapers, PR, Television