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.
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.