The first ever Malcolm Hardee Week at the Edinburgh Fringe has started and yesterday was a strange old day.
For most of the day, things went well.
I saw the funniest show so far at the Fringe – Johnny Sorrow’s The Bob Blackman Appreciation Society, which made me laugh-out-loud – a rare thing (television production experience, luv).
Having lost two helpers who were no longer coming to Edinburgh as planned, I had offers of help from several sources.
Ever-enthusiastic science-comedy star Helen Keen of Radio 4‘s It Is Rocket Science!) may be able to help me Wednesday to Friday, as can my chum Dr Sophia Khan, formerly of NASA and Harvard and assistant professor of Astrophysics at Shanghai University (Helen’s co-star in last year’s Fringe science comedy show Starstruck!)
From Thursday, I will also have Sophia’s chum Dr Andrew Bunker, former Head of Astronomy at the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Oz and now Reader in Astrophysics at Oxford University.
With help like this, surely there will be no problem keeping pasta in the air during Wednesday and Thursday’s spaghetti-juggle contests. Indeed, we should surely be able to get the cooked and aerodynamic strands into low Earth orbit.
On Friday, at the Malcolm Hardee Awards Show – really a two-hour anarchic variety show – I have also been offered help by comic Gill Smith who inspired the original Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award with a cracking Fringe publicity stunt in 2008 – she sent me an e-mail nominating herself for the main Malcolm Hardee Award and saying that, by doing so, she would be justified in putting Malcolm Hardee Award Nominee on her posters.
OCD is a wonderful thing.
Last night’s first Malcolm Hardee Week event went well: it was allegedly a debate on the proposition that “Comedians are psychopathic masochists with a death wish”. I think it went well, anyway. It was due to run from 6.15 to 7.00pm but over-ran by an hour to 8.00pm with no walk-outs when panelist Bob Slayer (whose show followed ours) decided that everyone was enjoying themselves so much, we should just carry on and the continuation of our show would become his hour-long show for the night.
That is what large amounts of drinking can lead to.
As I said, I do not think there were any walk-outs; in fact, of course, the audience swelled.
There was, surprisingly, only one incident of genital exposure during the show – when Paul Provenza did a Malcolm Hardee impression – and there were some interesting, if unprintable stories told in the over-run.
Scotsman critic and ITV Show Me The Funny judge Kate Copstick told a story I can’t possibly repeat about the origin of the Mrs Merton character – and a story about one promoter’s reaction to Kunt and the Gang’s current ‘Cockgate’ stunt at the Edinburgh Fringe, which was more Godfather anecdote than comedy story.
And comedienne Janey Godley told a true tale about Jerry Sadowitz performing in her pub in the East End of Glasgow to an audience which included real-life (now dead) Glasgow godfather Arthur Thompson. The largely-English audience I think missed a detail about Arthur Thompson which Janey mentioned in passing and which I do not think is generally known. Though true, I am most certainly not going to repeat it.
Thompson died in 1993, but I think waking up to a severed horse’s head might still be a possibility.
So yesterday – apart from the distant possibilities of horses’ heads and crucifixion on a wooden tenement floor – was good.
With Miss Behave now very sadly unable to compere Friday night’s two-hour Malcolm Hardee Awards Show at The Counting House because of her meningitis, Scott Capurro and New Comedy Act of the Year 2011 winner David Mills have stepped in to the breach by agreeing to be co-comperes. Scott even cancelled a party on Friday night so he could do the gig.
He told me that, after the first gig he played for Malcolm Hardee, as an American new to the London circuit, he was given his money in a brown envelope. When he got home, he found there was £20 less in the envelope than Malcolm had promised.
“Well, of course there was,” his comedian friends told him. “It’s Malcolm.”
It is extraordinary but true that Malcolm was always – and remains – held in such high esteem by his fellow comedians.
How often was the sentence uttered, “Well, it’s just Malcolm being Malcolm, isn’t it…” ?
But the one bad bit of news yesterday late afternoon was that Rab C.Nesbitt creator Ian Pattison cannot be on the panel of tonight’s 6.15pm Malcolm Hardee comedy debate at The Hive – allegedly on the proposition “Racist or sexist jokes? It doesn’t matter if they’re funny!” – because Ian has injured his back in Glasgow and cannot get to Edinburgh.
So, at the moment, the panel are Viz magazine creator Simon Donald, BBC TV One Show presenter Hardeep Singh Kohli and Laughing Cows‘ international compere Maureen Younger plus A.N.Other.
It was a bit of a downer when I heard that Ian cannot join us.
But yesterday ended well when I was told that the wonderful Doktor CocaColaMcDonalds has had a son called Oscar… the first Malcolm Hardee Award winner to have an Oscar…