Tag Archives: stunts

Getting drunk at the Edinburgh Fringe and singing over a dead man’s body

The latest news (maybe) from Broadway Baby

The latest Fringe news (maybe) from Broadway Baby

My left shoulder is in middling agony if I move it. It is comedian Arthur Smith’s fault. More about that later.

This morning, I booked the Ballroom of The Counting House in Edinburgh on Friday 28th August next year from 11.00pm to 1.00am… for the increasingly prestigious annual Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show. Next year is the tenth anniversary of the death by drowning of Malcolm, the godfather of British Alternative Comedy.

He was known, among many things, for his outrageous publicity stunts at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Yesterday in Edinburgh, it was good to see a special Broadway Baby review sheet about Fringe award winners.

Notable was Barry Ferns, who was listed on the front and who got a 6-star front page review for his show The Barry Experience. There was also a large photo of Barry on the back of the sheet, standing atop Arthur’s Seat. Also on the back sheet were reviews of sundry Fringe shows including:

  • Erection
  • Oxford English Dictionary: 2014 Edition
  • Laserdroids of Bangkok
  • The Elephant Nan
  • Rosencrantz & Guildenstern in Bed

You should be aware that, last year, Barry won the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award for a series of stunts including producing and distributing fake versions of Broadway Baby.

At The Grouchy Club yesterday: a bad selfie of Coptick and me

At The Grouchy Club, I was an innocent bystander to sex talk

Yesterday, the final Saturday of the Fringe, had a varied collection of other very interesting highlights including the penultimate Grouchy Club show at which my co-host Kate Copstick described to a Tesco Clubcard executive and his credit agency partner how she taught the sex workers of Nairobi about ‘soapy tit wanks’ and the use of fizzy drinks in penile erection plus she had tales of wild orgies in Radlett, Hertfordshire (the next village to where I live in Borehamwood/Elstree). Alas, the descriptions are too vivid for me to transcribe without breaking into tears and uncontrollable twitching.

This was followed by me being part of an alleged audience who were going to repeatedly sing the words “Neil Young” in a raucous way for a forthcoming music album. Alas, it never happened and, instead, Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt nominee Mark Dean Quinn appeared performing a one-hour act (possibly inspired by Andy Kaufman) in which he said very little but stared a lot at the audience.

Mark Dean Quinn - the Kaufman of ballooning

Mark Dean Quinn – arguably the Andy Kaufman of ballooning

It also involved (apparently by osmosis) the audience blowing up balloons to create male-genitalia-like hats. This went well until one young man was encouraged by his chum to get up out of his seat and immediately fell unconscious in a faint onto the floor.

He was tall, thin, pale-skinned and ginger haired. He had been previously blowing up a balloon but, at the time of his fall, was not. He was revived and Mark Dean Quinn quickly retrieved the balloons from his audience and changed the direction of his show.

If you can call it a show. It depends on your definition.

I certainly enjoyed it.

At any rate, all the donations received at the end of the show are now going to be given to an asthma charity.

It was a day of falling-downs and medical problems.

Wilfredo comforts Copstick (with her damaged left arm) by tickling her chin

Wilfredo comforts injured Copstick (with her damaged left arm) by tickling her with a rose

Later, I met up with the still physically and possibly mentally damaged Kate Copstick.

She had a hip replacement a couple of months ago (uninsured) after she fell off the platform on which her slum house stands in Kenya – and broke her elbow about a week ago after being accidentally bowled over by a couple of drunk gents in an Edinburgh street. She is still wearing a sling and goes “Ouch!” on a distractingly regular basis.

She blames the physical damage from both the Kenyan fall which smashed her hip and the Edinburgh fall which smashed her elbow on her being stone-cold sober. She reckons, if she had been drunk, she would have fallen in a more floppy, less damaging way.

Wilfredo handed out roses to his last fans last night

Wilfredo handed out roses last night

She and I were both in the basement of the Tron pub last night to see comic music act Wilfredo record his next album. References to Copstick seemed to pepper the show, the audience (heavily made-up of comics) adored the great man himself and I felt lucky to escape without Wilfredo’s spittle speckling me.

Afterwards, Wilfredo’s godfather Matt Roper told me: “I have to hear it back before I decide whether it will be released as an album. If it works, we’ll get it out by November.”

Which brings us to me lying face-down in the Royal Mile at about 2.30am this morning.

Arthur Smith was doing his annual free Alternative Tour of the Royal Mile last night from 2.00am which I guess attracted 50-80 people. That is a lot when you are one crowded bundle of people rolling down the Royal Mile following a man with surreality on his mind.

Arthur (left) and the stripped man in a waste bin

Arthur (left) & the stripped man in a waste bin in Royal Mile

There was a lack of the total nudity and urination which characterised his event in the later years of last century, but it still involved various pranks such as Arthur’s partner Beth doing the splits, Wally (as in Where’s Wally?) being chased out of his hiding place and legging it off up the Royal Mile, a man being persuaded to climb into a rubbish bin wearing only his pants, the assembled throng singing Jerusalem with obscene lyrics to bemused customers at a pizza stand, constant verbal attacks on the integrity of a local French restaurant and singing a song involving the word ‘cunt’ over the body of an apparently dead man on the pavement.

Arthur Smith encouraged singing over ‘dead’ man in Royal Mile

Arthur Smith led the singing over a ‘dead’ man in Royal Mile

At one point, shortly after singing the song involving the word ‘cunt’ over an apparently dead man lying on the pavement (one of Arthur’s many pre-arranged stunts),  I tripped and fell flat on my front on the pavement (no arms out, just a straight fall onto my front). People just ignored this for a brief moment and looked at me, presumably thinking it was another stunt. But then I was helped up. This getting-up worried me slightly because, as I went down, a shooting pain similar to cramp had shot up my left leg. Fortunately, though, I was OK.

Until this morning, when I found I had searing, shooting pain if I tried to move my left shoulder. The shoulder which never mended properly after being smashed when I got hit by a truck in 1991.

There is nothing broken, as far as I know. Presumably it is just bruised muscle.

But it makes me think Copstick has a point.

I was sober when I fell.

I do not drink, really, except at funerals and marriages, when it would seem rude not to.

If you are drunk, falling is less dangerous.

I think perhaps I should start to drink.

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At the Edinburgh Fringe: reaction to the fake beating of a comedian + mad chat

Gareth Ellis suffers for his art (photo by Lewis Schaffer)

Ellis after fake Fringe street attack (photograph by Lewis Schaffer)

There was some reaction to the early Malcolm Hardee ‘Pound Of Flesh’ Award yesterday.

It was awarded to Ellis (with Richard Rose of Ellis & Rose) for their stunt (revealed first in my blog yesterday) in which Rose punched Ellis in the face four times so they could claim he had been attacked in the street and get some publicity for their shows Ellis & Rose: Big in Denmark and Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show.

In yesterday’s reactions comedian/writer/photographer Ian Fox, in particular, was mentioned.

At last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, he really WAS attacked in the street and left with injuries which took several months to mend. I blogged about it at the time.

Ian Fox after a real Edinburgh street attack last year (photograph courtesy of Ian Fox)

Ian Fox after a real Edinburgh street attack last year (photograph courtesy of Ian Fox)

American comic Craig Shaynak @craigshaynak Tweeted: “Ian Fox should get an award for actually getting beat up! (and for being VERY funny while getting beaten)”

Comedian Janey Godley @JaneyGodley Tweeted: “Comics at Fringe who pretend to be attacked for press attention ? Who the fuck does that? Check @thejohnfleming blog”

And Mike Finlay @MikeFinlayComic mysteriously Tweeted: “A singer who I won’t name was apparently abducted and nearly killed conveniently after announcing his new band”

Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show

Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show

Meanwhile, the Chortle website (whose review of Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show had been blamed for the non-existent street attack on Ellis) wrote: “Even by the standard of Edinburgh publicity stunts, it’s pretty extreme.”

Chortle’s Steve Bennett said: “I felt pretty awful when I first thought something I’d written might have ended in someone being physically attacked. No performer deserves that… But I would never have thought that they would have gone to such lengths to deliberately hurt themselves just to get into the paper. I suppose it’s apt, though, the appalling Jimmy Savile show is pretty much a self-inflicted wound on their own comedy career.”

When Ellis phoned me about the Chortle reaction, I told him he should use the line ELLIS & ROSE: “a self-inflicted wound on their comedy career” (Chortle) on their posters.

The Edinburgh Fringe is all about cheap publicity.

Both Chortle and Scots comedy promoter Alan Anderson commented that comedian Shawn Hitchens was notable by his absence from the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt shortlist. He had organised a ‘ginger pride’ march through the streets of Edinburgh, attracting worldwide headlines from the BBC, CNN, the Daily Mirror, the Bangkok Post, Canada.com, the Daily Mail, the Irish Independent, the Times Of Malta and French outlet 7sur7 among others.

Fair enough, a stunt. But not really that cunning.

The Malcolm Hardee Awards, with ‘Million’ award in middle

The increasingly prestigious three Malcolm Hardee Awards

The best cunning stunts play with and ideally play a confidence trick on the media or twist an idea in an original way.

We did very seriously consider nominating the fake Ellis beating as a Cunning Stunt. But – as we were not going to give an ‘Act Most Likely To Make a Million Quid’ Award this year so had a spare trophy – we decided we could, in effect, award two Cunning Stunts this year (there have been lots of good stunts around) and we would award the Ellis & Rose one – called the Pound of Flesh Award – early because we were frightened their con would be revealed by someone other than us… and because, by giving an early award, we could drum up some publicity for the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show this Friday night.

The Edinburgh Fringe is all about cheap publicity: something the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards have always strived to encourage, as a tribute to Malcolm’s increasingly prestigious reputation.

At my Edinburgh chat show today in Bob’s Bookshop, I have booked English eccentric adventurer Tim Fitzhigham who cannot get there for the start because he is finishing off his own show at the Pleasance Courtyard. So, before him on the bill, I have perhaps foolishly booked Geordie-Irish-Iranian comedian Patrick Monahan who perhaps has not the most consistent time-keeping record.

My co-host, Scotsman comedy critic Kate Copstick, has promised to pole dance to fill in any time before Patrick arrives, so I am now attempting to get hold of Patrick to ensure he is late.

The chat shows seem to be going well.

Moi, Arthur Smith and Kate Copstick chatted on Monday

Fat man, Arthur Smith and Kate Copstick chatted on Monday (photograph by Brian Higgins)

On Monday, Copstick was there to defend her reported criticisms of comedian Sarah Millican and, it seemed to me, merely ended up slagging-off at least three other female comedians.

Then Arthur Smith arrived, on his way to Waverley station to get a train to see his mother-in-law in Sunderland… and shared some bizarre tales.

I had intended to blog extracts from these chat shows, but the Ellis & Rose ‘fake beaten up’ story took precedence yesterday and saved me having to listen to 60 minutes of iPhone recording and much longer transcribing hell.

Juliette Burton, Jorik Mol and Laura Levites yesterday

Juliette Burton, Jorik Mol & Laura Levites chatted yesterday (photograph by Brian Higgins)

Yesterday’s chat show seemed to me to be equally fascinating with critic Kate Copstick and comedians Juliette Burton, Laura Levites and Jorik Mol sharing their thoughts on – and memories of – mental hospitals, suicide bids and drugs. Juliette Burton, whose show When I Grow Up I had just seen for the third time – it was a rock-solid 5-star show in a totally sold-out venue – seemed to have had the longest list of mental problems but was the only one not currently on medication. What one deduces from that I do not know.

With luck and more time to transcribe, extracts may appear in this blog at a later date.

Yesterday seemed to be a Juliette Burton day because, after I saw Charlie Chuck’s new show Charlie Chuck’s Grande Night Out – new tartan suit, new jokes and a rousingly-rockingly-sung See You Later Alligator – I went to see John Lloyd’s late-night BBC chat show and, blow me, Juliette was on the bill there again.

But, returning to Bob’s Bookshop – the location of my own daily chat shows – Bob Slayer issued a press release yesterday which said:


Publicity-seeking foxy blondes outside Bob’s Bookshop include Bob Slayer (left) and Adrienne Truscott (second from right)

“Being an intimate venue that has become increasingly popular we have been forced to introduce a plan to control the numbers. Starting today our door policy will be FOXY BLONDES ONLY. Non Blondes will not be allowed after 9pm.”

This seemed to be just an excuse for him to dress up in a blonde wig with multi-award-nominated Adrienne Truscott and others.

The Edinburgh Fringe is all about cheap publicity, but it can only be a coincidence that Bob’s Bookshop is sponsored by the Scottish Border Brewery and one of their brews is called Foxy Blonde.

I rounded off my day yesterday by going with comic Lewis Schaffer to Bob Slayer’s Midnight Mayhem show at the Bookshop. When we arrived, one member of the audience was asking: “Has anybody here NOT read dolphin sex books?”

This was never fully explained to my satisfaction and I left after an hour, leaving Lewis Schaffer holding the microphone and telling people he was Lewis Schaffer.

40 minutes later, I got a text from Lewis saying:

“Bob tossed a beer at me.”

It was a quiet, mostly uneventful day at the Edinburgh Fringe.

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