The final increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show took place in the ballroom of Edinburgh’s Counting House.
The winners chosen by the five judges earlier in the day, with awards presented by critic Kate Copstick and Malcolm’s sister Clare Hardee during the show, were:
MALCOLM HARDEE AWARD FOR COMIC ORIGINALITY
Terry Alderton for his successful self-reinvention and, well, for originality
MALCOLM HARDEE CUNNING STUNT AWARD
Mark Dean Quinn for his simple yet successful subversion of the star system of comedy reviews by putting other people’s quotes and stars on his own flyers.
THE ACT MOST LIKELY TO MAKE A MILLION QUID AWARD
Rob Kemp, currently performing in the Elvis Dead.
The Awards Show, compered by Molotov Cocktail street anarchist and comic Becky Fury, concluded with the increasingly prestigious annual Scottish Russian Egg Roulette Championship supervised by Andy Dunlop, President of the World Egg Throwing Federation and John Deptford, Vice President of the World Egg Throwing Federation.
Italian comic Luca Cupani is now officially the 2017 Scottish National Russian Egg Roulette Champion, having previously represented British comedy in Canada.
I have to add, with some humility, that I was also the recipient of a surprise prize for my work on the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards over the last ten years: 16 cans of Red Bull, bought by the three female members of the judging panel for supervisory services rendered.
Earlier in the day, World Egg Throwing President Andy Dunlop revealed to me that there has been a recent outbreak of exploding intestines across the UK.
“There is methane produced inside the human body,” former-fireman Andy explained, “and when you have surgery using laser scalpels, that is enough to ignite it and there have been a number of fatalities in operating theatres in which intestines exploded into the room.”
Vice President John Deptford, who (this is true) left for Peru four hours after the Awards Show finished, took 7 seconds of video footage of the two hour show.
Brevity can be a virtue.
Context is King.
The ballroom of The Counting House was left with some unfortunate egg stains, indelible memories and an inexplicable smell of paraffin.
THE MALCOLM HARDEE CUNNING STUNT AWARD (for a cunning publicity stunt promoting a performer or show at the Fringe)
Damian Kingsley …for handing out flyers while wearing a security guard’s jacket at venues other than his own, on the basis that punters are more likely to take flyers from a security guard rather than a normal flyer.
Martha McBrier …for a publicity stunt for her Balamory Doubtfire show so complicated that even an explanation by her with a timelinedoes not fully unravel the layers. I still have no idea where the truth begins or ends and the scam starts or finishes.
THE MALCOLM HARDEE ‘ACT MOST LIKELY TO MAKE A MILLION QUID AWARD’ (Means what it says on the label)
His Elvis Dead show and subsequent similarly-formatted shows could end up worldwide (if the music copyright problems could be overcome) and/or could be franchised.
Already presenting his own Irish radio show and the Irish version of Blind Date, he has now been commissioned for a BBC Radio one-off, showing potential to make the leap to the UK and beyond.
You will no doubt have picked-up that, highly unusually, two performers are nominated for two awards each…
Rob Kemp for the Comic Originality and ‘Million Quid’ Awards.
And Mark Dean Quinn in the Comic Originality and Cunning Stunt categories.
This is the third consecutive year that Al Porter has been nominated for the ‘Million Quid’ Award.
I ended today soaked through with Irn Bru and rain.
The day started off like a normal Fringe day.
“Michael Brunström wants to borrow some of my compost,” performer Narin Oz told me, as I walked into Fringe Central. This made perfect sense at the time – a sign of how your brain soon gets affected by the Fringe.
Becky Fury stood in for Copstick. Same hair; no white streak. The front row of our overwhelming audience (it’s all comparative) included two women who had seen Lewis Schaffer’s show last night and had not liked it.
Martha McBrier – castigated by some for playing a didgeridoo – arrived with a small brown box.
Copstick arrived when the show was almost over, telling chilling tales of Alex Salmond singing.
Cultural appropriation for Martha McBrier to play the box?
Martha McBrier played the small brown box by blowing into it. She claimed it was a ‘box didgeridoo’.
It was unclear to both her and us if women were banned from playing it, as they are with linear didgeridoos.
We started discussing Lewis Schaffer again.
At this point, Lewis Schaffer phoned asking me to send him a picture of himself.
Then I was off to see Michael Brunström, Phil Jarvis and Alwin Solanky perform the legendary 20-minute routine Dinner For One in a small garden shed beside Bob Slayer’s Blundabus.
Dinner For One, recorded in English for German audiences in 1963 is extraordinarily famous in Germany, Austria, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Faroe Islands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, South Africa and Australia. In fact, loads of places except the UK.
(Left-Right) Alwin Solanky, Phil Jarvis and Michael Brunström
Phil Jarvis introduced this shed-based production in German, then Dinner For One was performed in English with Phil as the butler, Michael Brunström in drag as the lady and Alwin Solanky as the tiger skin rug. The shed miraculously contained an audience of (I think) eight people, with more peering in through the open door.
Dinner For One: a cast over the top; an audience under threat
The spilling, throwing and spewing of Irn Bru – standing in for the original show’s alcoholic drinks – was extensive.
The result was that I was (with some pride) the only audience member left in the shed by the end.
I had taken the precaution of wearing a coat which I bought in Nuremberg and which, fortunately, has a liquid-proof hood.
This production of Dinner For One epitomised the spirit of the Fringe – people performing something for no logical reason whatsoever, ignoring financial recompense, audience numbers and any common sense.
You did, indeed, have to be there.
As did I at Nathan Cassidy’s one-off event The World’s Best MC Award Grand Final because I was booked to be one of the judges – well, THE judge, as it turned out.
At the Awards (L-R) Nick Helm, Rich Wilson, Nathan Cassidy and Sarah Callaghan (Photograph by Rat Pack Productions)
As it turned out, it was pretty much what it said on the label – six good comics doing 5-minute MC-style intros – each introducing the next – in an attempt to win an alleged £5,000 prize.
The comedians/MCs were Sarah Callaghan, Nick Helm, Joey Page, Mark Silcox, Chris Turner and Rich Wilson.
Unsurprisingly, in a shock twist, Nathan Cassidy won his own £5,000.
Very enjoyable, a real audience-pleaser, but I’m not convinced it’s a Cunning Stunt. The door money DID go to charity, though.
That is not up to me, though.
Fellow Malcolm Hardee judges Marissa Burgess, Bruce Dessau, Kate Copstick, Jay Richardson and Claire Smith all have equal says to me.
Talking of Malcolm Hardee – and who isn’t at the Fringe? – the wonderful 2011 Award winner Johnny Sorrow and Bob Blackman’s Tray have arrived in Edinburgh. I saw them tonight at The Newsroom, the small venue at the top of Leith Walk. From their energy, he/they could have been playing Radio City Music Hall.
THAT is how to play to an audience of one.
No audience problem for The Elvis Dead, though.
The Elvis Dead – Cultural event or niche pastiche?
It is probably the hottest and most talked-about show in Edinburgh.
In fact, the buzz around it started at the Leicester Comedy Festival back in February and has built to dizzying heights since. It is superbly well put together together and performed.
But I am not the target audience.
It reminded me of my experience over a week ago when I saw Mother’s Ruin – about gin – with an audience fully into the subject. The Elvis Dead is a musical re-telling of the movie Evil Dead II through pastiches of Elvis Presley songs.
My problem is that I have not seen Evil Dead II; I am not a particular fan of Elvis Presley; and singalong, clapalong-stompalong-whoopalong, crowd-bonding events are not my thing. Mea culpa.
The audience LOVED it. The only-begetter of this crowd-pleasing triumph, Rob Kemp, is getting full houses every night. But for me, the elevator pitch is that it is Jollyboat rabble-rousing (I like Jollyboat) meets Harriet Braine niche pastiche (I admire Harriet Braine).
Braine and brawn vie for niche pastiche attention
Harriet Braine performs superb pastiche songs about fine art and artists – very very clever songs about Magritte, Cezanne, Van Gogh, whatever whoever. But I don’t know the subject well enough to fully appreciate them. So the full effect floats or zooms over my head, as with The Elvis Dead.
Rob Kemp says he is returning to Edinburgh next year with a Beetlejuice show.
I HAVE seen Beetlejuice.
But I am not a massive fan.
On the other hand… if we were talking about a musical version of The Wild Bunch… I would be queuing-up like the Dead Elvis fans are.