Tag Archives: Princes Street

Lewis Schaffer stunt scuppered; Charlie Chuck fights back with ducks in his hair

A few days ago, I wrote a blog which basically lamented the lack of decent publicity stunts at the Edinburgh Fringe. This is of particular interest to me as I organise the annual Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award for best Fringe publicity stunt. I started it because the Fringe seemed to have lost part of its original irresponsibility.

In 2009, American comic Lewis Schaffer won the Cunning Stunt Award for a fake press release in which he claimed he was sponsoring the former Perrier Awards for £99 and they would henceforth be named after him.

But once is never enough for Lewis.

A few weeks ago, he was going to issue a list of the Top 20 comedians not to have appeared on television and he was going to put himself in the No 7 position “because I don’t really believe in myself”.

I thought this was an interesting self-publicity idea. But his plan was accidentally scuppered when, a couple of days later, Malcolm Hardee judge and doyenne of Fringe comedy critics Kate Copstick, coincidentally published a list in the Scotsman newspaper of her 20 Comedians to Catch at the Edinburgh Festival. As she put Lewis in third place on this ‘proper’ list of good comedians, it tragically undercut his self-deprecation schtick.

Still, I have hopes he will come up with another unexpected publicity stunt. I have always fantasised about him dressed as a chicken. But any Schafferian avian stunt may have been scuppered too.

I had a phone call yesterday from Charlie Chuck whose girlfriend, as I blogged a couple of days ago, has 21 ducks in her back garden, some of them small chicks.

Ducks are occasionally mentioned in Charlie Chuck’s act and he had a cartoon character of himself created years ago which has ducks in its hair so, on the phone, he suggested that… yup… He suggested I should go up to Leicestershire and see him in his girlfriend’s back garden where I could take photographs of him with ducks in his hair.

Or, at least, ducklings.

“There’s this little one that’s up for it and probably more,” he told me. “This one’s only four days old and it’s well up for a bit o’ adventure. It loves being in me hair.”

This idea was so obviously insane and pointless that I immediately said Yes.

I’m driving up in a couple of days time.

As there are not and never will be any hard-and-fast rules for any Malcolm Hardee Award, I see no conflict of interest in taking the photos myself and then, if they are any good and get any publicity for the show, nominating Charlie Chuck for the Cunning Stunt Award.

But, in fact, I’m not convinced one publicity photo taken in a back garden in rural Leicestershire counts as a publicity stunt.

If he were to walk down Princes Street in Edinburgh during the Fringe with 15 birds in his hair, yelling out details of his two shows, that would be a stunt.

But, if it works as a photo – which it may not – it gives an idea of the area we’re interested in for the Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award.

I think mad, bad and dangerous to know is almost always good.

Pity about the price of petrol.

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MALCOLM HARDEE AWARDS 2010 – shortlist announced at the Edinburgh Fringe

(This blog originally appeared in What’s On Stage)

After an ‘interesting’ discussion** this morning, the shortlist for the annual Malcolm Hardee Awards has been announced. The Awards are being presented until the year 2017 in memory of the late “godfather of British alternative comedy”.

The Malcolm Hardee Award winners will be announced around midnight on Friday 27th August during the nightly Shaggers show at the Three Sisters in Cowgate, Edinburgh as part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival.
Today, the shortlist for the three awards was announced as:

THE MALCOLM HARDEE AWARD FOR COMIC ORIGINALITY

Dr BROWN is an act where ‘surreal’ does not quite do justice to what is or is not happening on stage – “Uncomfortable weirdness” was one attempt to categorise it.

LEWIS SCHAFFER for turning round his act Into a highly improvised and totally unpredictable event… and for being able to literally take his show Free Until Famous onto the streets.

BOB SLAYER for his continued services to anarchy in comedy, including his  gobsmackingly anarchic Punk Rock Chat Show (which usually has nothing to do with punk, rock or chat)

ROBERT WHITE for his enthusiastic unconventionality and for being (in his own words) “the only gay, Aspergers, quarter Welsh, webbed-toed dyslexic pianist debuting this Fringe”

THE MALCOLM HARDEE CUNNING STUNT AWARD

(for best Fringe publicity stunt)

STEWART LEE who, while complaining about the former Perrier Award incidentally, almost accidentally promoted Japanese act the Frank Chickens who were not performing at this year’s Fringe. As a result, they actually did come up to Edinburgh to perform at the Fringe for the first time in 25 years – at a show promoting Stewart Lee’s new book. The fact that Stewart did not intend to unleash publicity does not negate his success.

MANOS THE GREEK for claiming he will donate 10% of the total earnings from his Free Fringe show to rescue the Greek economy and by pushing his luck in a Hardee-esque way by, one hour before we decided on the shortlist, having a photocall wearing a langolia (Greek kilt) atop Calton Hill in front of the Doric columns of the National Monument.

ARTHUR SMITH for declaring that he would pay £100 to any journalist attending his show who would juggle fish. When his bluff was called by critic Bruce Dessau, Arthur neglected to buy the required kippers, but he still got publicity out of a silly idea: a pre-requisite for getting a Cunning Stunt nomination.

THE MALCOLM HARDEE ‘ACT MOST LIKELY TO MAKE A MILLION QUID’ AWARD
(first time this new annual award has been made)

BO BURNHAM certainly one of the hottest young comedians on the Fringe for several years. Might already have made a million in the US, which might or might not disqualify him.

GREG DAVIES for his sense of the absurb. Known as the psychotic head of sixth form, Mr Gilbert in The Inbetweeners and the most out-of-shape member of We are Klang.
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Separate from the Awards, The Malcolm Hardee Documentary Preview continues to screen daily at 1520 at the Newsroom venue in Leith Street (east end of Princes Street) until 28th August. The screening comprises a 32 minute documentary The Tunnel about Malcolm’s most notorious comedy club; and 17 minutes of clips from the currently-in-production 90-minute documentary Malcolm Hardee: All The Way From Over There.
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** The’interesting’ discussion resulted in the shortlist for the ‘Act Most Likely to Make a Million Quid Award’ reduced from four to two nominees.

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