Tag Archives: Tim Fitzhigham

Edinburgh Fringe: a cute dog, a dead pig and three women I don’t talk to…

Exclamation mark

Some people just don’t know when to stop…

In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned an unwise act who sent me the same introductory e-mail three times then, the next day, phoned my mobile four times in an hour while I was driving up the M6 motorway. Yesterday morning, within half an hour, I received another three copies of the same e-mail from him within half an hour.

When I say “the same e-mail” I mean the same introductory one he had sent two days ago. Not a new one. It is like repeatedly getting a Nigerian scam e-mail without the misprints.

The exquisitely funny Andrew Watts and his new co-star son

The exquisitely funny Andrew Watts with his new co-star son

After aiming Google’s spam filter at the comedian’s address, I went to the Counting House to see if the posters/flyers for today’s Grouchy Club show had arrived. (They had.)

I bumped into the exquisite Andrew Watts who was looking for his own Feminism For Chaps posters.

I have made it my mission to relentlessly call him “exquisite” (Time Out reviewed him as “exquisitely funny”) until he breaks and runs naked down the Royal Mile attacking passers-by with a gherkin. I give him two weeks maximum.

Andrew told me he has decided to include his small son in his show after he heard comic Karen Bayley was including her dog in hers.

Karen Bayley’s dog Bertie - the photograph accompanying the talented canine's brand new Twitter account @Boatmanbertie

Karen Bayley’s dog Bertie – the photograph accompanying the talented canine’s brand new Twitter account @Boatmanbertie

Karen had been handing out flyers for her Geezer Bird show in Edinburgh’s streets with the cute mutt. People then went to see Geezer Bird and were initially disappointed not to see the dog in the show. So the canine has now been added and Karen has clothes on order for it.

Then, after seeing Juliette Burton’s flawless funny show Look At Me at the Gilded Balloon, I bumped into sound girl (in all senses of the word) Misha Anker, who is doing the technical stuff for my increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show at the Counting House on 22nd August. She was on two crutches. This is not normal for her. She told me she had fallen in the street and doctors had told her not to walk up hills. This is Edinburgh. It is all hills.

Grouchy Club + Malcolm Hardee Awards 2014

1st Rule of Edinburgh. If you got it, flaunt it

Since arriving in Edinburgh, I have been meaning to arrange a meeting with Misha to talk about the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show. We had no time to talk yesterday.

I have also been trying to meet Kate Copstick since last Friday in London about our daily Grouchy Club show in Edinburgh (which starts today) but we failed utterly. So we will do that today, during the show. It is, after all, a chat show.

The third person I have failed to talk to – over several weeks – is Miss Behave, co-presenter on 22nd August of the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show.

Tim Fitzhigham (left) and Bob Slayer host the Fool Members Club

Tim FitzHigham (left) and Bob Slayer yesterday…

After midnight last night/this morning, I went to Bob Slayer and Tim FitzHigham’s IndieRound (Fool Members Club) at Bob & Miss Behave’s Bookshop and, of course, she was there. It is her venue. But, again, we failed to talk because she made an early exit.

I am beginning to think the problem is either me or my shirt.

After the Fool Members Club meandered to its finish, around 3.00am, I went back to my flat and read an e-mail from Free Festival supremo Alex Petty telling me about journalist Nadia Brooks and the pig.

I found out more from Nadia this morning.

Nadia Brooks is a puny Lexicon Lady

Nadia Brooks is the punny Lexicon Lady

She is performing a show called Lexicon Lady which, she says, is filled with “pithy poems, poignant prose and perky puns as well as a litter of alliteration”.

Two days ago, about halfway through her show, a man in a high-visibility jacket walked in with a dead pig over his shoulder and took it into the bar at the back. He then came back out but returned a couple of times with another man who was wearing a high visibility jacket and carrying boxes.

This morning, Nadia told me: “The pig man was grinning broadly as he wandered through my show. The dead pig slung over his shoulder was not smiling.

“I think the audience thought it was part of my show because I’m a northerner and we often have bizarre deliveries to working men’s clubs. Usually it’s a cockles man.

“Yesterday, the show was bac-on again. This time three fire safety chiefs popped in about halfway through, carrying clipboards, seemingly unaware a show was going on.

“The pig man came in again – at the end this time – sans piggie. I asked him if he would be delivering a pig again and he said: Maybe in a couple of days.”

I should perhaps not mention that Nadia rounded-off by saying:

“I am hoping it is all a big stunt to secretly audition me for a part in a new series of Phoenix Nights. Still, hopefully it means my show will be the pork of the town.”

As I mentioned, Nadia describes her show as “pithy poems, poignant prose and perky puns”.

She also said:

“I look forward to coming along to see you at The Grouchy Club!”

So that is one person in the audience then. The upside is that, if no-one turns up, Kate Copstick and I will actually have time to talk. I may get Miss Behave and Misha Anker to come along on subsequent days.


Filed under Comedy, Edinburgh

Comedy is difficult because tragedy can be funny & jokes can sadden audiences

In the final week of the recent  Edinburgh Fringe, I staged five daily hour-long chat shows. In the third show, the guests were English eccentric adventurer Tim Fitzhigham and comedian Patrick Monahan. This is a brief extract:


Tim Fitzhigham (left) and Patrick Monahan chat in Edinburgh

Tim Fitzhigham (left) & Patrick Monahan chat in Edinburgh

JOHN: Remind us what your background is, Patrick.

PATRICK: Me dad is Irish, me mum’s Iranian and I grew up in Teesside in North East England.

TIM: It’s almost the set-up for a joke… A Geordie, an Iranian and an Irish guy…

PATRICK: Well, I did a gig in Germany and they were laughing at the set-ups, not the punchlines. I would say Me dad’s from Ireland, me mum’s from Iran… and they’d go Ha ha! Oh yes!… and I’d think I’ve not done the joke yet. Then I’d add: We spent most of our family holidays in Customs and they wouldn’t laugh. They’d react Yes, that is true.

I did those jokes for a few years but I thought I don’t want to get pigeon-holed. One year, I’d like to just talk about the Irish-Iranian background stuff. But I don’t think I’ve matured enough as a comic yet to do that. It gets quite serious and you think Oh god, do people really want to hear about…

TIM: Well, the stuff you want to talk about in a serious way… I tried it and people were crying with laughter. I was going into what was, in my head, a very moving section of my show about when our family home sank and… (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)… You see? It’s already started. I thought this was my confessional minute and I was explaining how, when I was a child, my father would just close off the doors and lock them because they’d gone under the water line. I thought it was a real, emotional tear-jerker and I said to the audience: Dad closed the kitchen door and he locked it and said Don’t play in there any more and then he turned to me and said Where’s the cat? I was really moved by that. The cat had gone under the water line. The cat had drowned. But the way I phrased it must have been a disaster, because the audience was weeping with laughter.

PATRICK: Once, about a year ago, I was playing a theatre in Didcot and thought I’d do some personal stuff. I had a joke about my grandparents – the Iranian and the Irish. There was one point where our families didn’t speak when I was growing up. I told the audience, as a kid, I loved old people, but our family never spoke – the Irish and the Iranians. So I said I used to go to old people’s homes with biscuits, just so old people would talk to me. And the whole audience just went Aaawwwwww….. I’m trying to do a joke here but, for a minute, they were just Aaawwwwwwing and I thought What have I done here? They were all really sad. So I thought OK, let’s talk about something different. So I never really touch on the personal stuff now.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy

English eccentric comedy adventurer Tim Fitzhigham talks futtocks and of rowing a bathtub across the Channel

(A version of this piece was also published on the Indian news site WSN)

(From left) Me, Tim Fitzhigham, Kate Copstick

(From left) Me, Tim Fitzhigham, Kate Copstick in Edinburgh

A couple of weeks ago, I staged five daily hour-long chat shows in the final week of the Edinburgh Fringe.

In the third show, one of the guests was English eccentric adventurer Tim Fitzhigham, a Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award nominee for one of his annual Fringe comedy shows.

He talked to me and to comedy critic Kate Copstick. This is a short extract from that chat:


COPSTICK: Your adventures… Is it insanity or is it you don’t think you could write a funny enough stand-up show, so you go and do mental things?

TIM: I think that’s right. But I like to see if things are possible. Can you do it? I have the world record for longest distance travelled in a boat made entirely out of paper. I just wondered how far you could travel in a paper boat.

COPSTICK: How far?

TIM: 160 miles.


TIM: Where the comedy comes is I try these things and what is normally quite a mundane thing can suddenly take on a… With the paper boat, I had to get insurance for the paper boat before they would let me take it out on the water. I phoned hundreds of insurance companies. Nobody would give me insurance for that. Then one of them phoned me back and said: We will cover you and the paper boat against fire and theft. You couldn’t write a better joke than that. Just the truth is funny… Then I thought: Can you row a bath tub across the English Channel? I thought some Victorian must have done it, but no-one had.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: How long did it take you to row across?

TIM: Nine hours and six minutes and I had my heel on the plug all the way because, obviously, you needed to be able to take the plug out, otherwise it was cheating.

JOHN: Was it difficult to set up?

TIM: When I first phoned the Royal Navy to try and get them on board with the idea, there was a mistake at the switchboard and I got put through to a rear admiral. And that was the best result for me, because both my uncle and my great uncle were in the Navy and they told me If ever you’re talking to a member of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, you always start the conversation with a question – How are your futtocks, old man?

So I get put through to the rear admiral and I say How are your futtocks, old man? and he replies At their furthest reach, dear boy.

When I asked my uncle about this, he said Yes, that was the correct nautical response. I said That’s fantastic, uncle, but what does it actually mean? and he said Well, that’s the thing, Tim. Nobody actually knows. It’s just this mad thing the Navy have done for 300 years.

I then finally got hold of someone sensible about the whole thing and it turns out what a futtock actually is is the ribs on an old-fashioned boat and, when you say, How are your futtocks? if they reply At their furthest reach then the boat is running at its absolute top capacity. You are, in effect, saying How’s your day going? and they’re saying Very well.

I had to go up to the Admiralty Board – which is quite a serious thing. It doesn’t often happen and there are five flag admirals. I sat there and one of the admirals told me: Rowing a bath tub across the English Channel is not possible. We’ve done the calculations. You’re a single guy. It’s just not possible. Physics is against you.

I looked him directly in the eye and said: I’m not saying it IS possible, I’m saying give me the chance to try.

And – literally in a second – he turned to the admiral next to him and said: And THAT’s the spirit that built this nation!

One second. One answer. And suddenly I had the Navy behind me and they are serious.

In a maritime way.

Obviously, they’re less useful in a desert.

But, in a maritime way, they’re the best.

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy, Eccentrics, Humor, Humour, UK

Humanity, humour, farting, eccentricity and tragedy at the Edinburgh Fringe

Sal Monello - a creator of fringes at The Fringe

Sal Monello – cutter of hirsute fringes at The Fringe

Yesterday morning at the Edinburgh Fringe, as Irish comedian Christian Talbot was trying to get me to talk coherently for his Seven 2 Ten podcast, I got a text message from American comedian Lewis Schaffer saying:

Sal, the comic barber, is cutting hair for free during the Festival.

Thus I later found myself in Fringe Central sitting on a chair with Sal Monello standing behind me holding sharp, pointed scissors saying:

“I come from Corleone in Sicily.”

“As in The Godfather?” I asked politely.

“Yes. My surname is not Monello… Monello means ‘villain’ or ‘naughty boy’. My father genuinely did escape from the Mafia. In my comedy set, I make it funny but it was rather tragic. My father was in the Communist Party and his name was put on a hit list in 1955 and he had to leave the country. They were going to kill him.

“Ironically, my dad killed himself when he was 66. He had managed to keep his life together while he was working and brought up us seven kids. The minute he retired, he thought Fuck, my life is over.

“He did all sorts of jobs: fork-lift truck driver, railway line worker, hospital porter. The job we liked best was when he worked in a chocolate factory. He used to cut my hair with clippers to keep the cost down and I ended up being a hairdresser. I’ve only been doing comedy for three years. My marriage broke down after 25 years. We divorced two years ago, but my wife left about three and a half years ago. She ran off with a Polish taxi driver. I still love the woman, that’s the problem – fucking damaged me. In order to stay sane, I threw myself into comedy, because you can totally absorb yourself in it.

“I set up gigs, performed and got so involved in it very quickly but, one day, I looked down at my shotgun – I shoot – and thought I’m going to kill myself.

“But then I had visions of him with his arm round her saying in a Polish accent: Oh, it is terrible tragedy. Clearly he was insane. He probably better off where he is. But now we have a lovely house and business.

“So I thought Fuck you, mate – I’m not going to shoot myself. And I didn’t.

“I stayed sane through comedy.

Sal had some cutting remarks yesterday

Sal Monello shared some cutting insights with me yesterday (photograph by Lewis Schaffer)

“When I started doing comedy, I quickly found people have to believe what you say.

“I actually lost my virginity to a whole family. I fucked a whole family when I was 17 – well, not the dad. But the mother – she was a widow – and her three daughters. I screwed all of them. That’s how I lost my virginity.

“If I tell people that on stage, they don’t believe me but I’ve learned that, if a say someone in my hairdressing chair has told me the story, they’ll believe me because they know people are prepared to talk to a hairdresser. I’ve got that unique angle: I can be anybody.

“I’m not doing a show at the Fringe this year but, next year, I want to do a show called A Free Haircut. I’ll get people up on stage and I’ll do a full haircut while telling stories.”

At this point, my former temporary Edinburgh flatmate Andy Zapp passed by:

“My gorilla is arriving tonight by plane,” he told me.

“He must be a very well-off gorilla,” I said.

“Yes,” said Andy Zapp.

“Is he a gorilla-gram?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Andy. “A stripper-gorilla-gram.”

A passer-by takes an interest in Mr Methane yesterday

A passer-by takes an interest in Mr Methane’s act yesterday

Then I went to see my new temporary Edinburgh flatmate Mr Methane’s first show at Bob’s Bookshop – part memories of his life professionally farting around the world; part fart demonstrations.

He had managed to get a full audience on his first day with little publicity. The outside door was left open for ventilation; passers-by occasionally looked through the window at what was happening in the front room of Bob’s Bookshop. Oddly, they only occasionally appeared surprised.

“Farting doesn’t get any easier,” he told his audience. “I’ve been doing this since I was 15. After school, I moved on to a sensible career on the railways, followed by a bit of japing around and then into full-blown – if that’s the right word – showbusiness when I was 25.”

As he lay back on the table and splayed his buttocks under his green and purple costume, he explained: “What we do is we open the sphincter muscle – you lads from Glasgow, we’re talking about the turd-cutter here.

Bob Slayer was saying to me last night Comedy isn’t easy. There’s a crafting. Comedians can work on a joke and it might not be funny for three years then, one night, they just change a couple of words or put a pause in and everyone laughs hysterically. It’s a craft. And then they see me come on stage, I get me legs in the air, I part me buttocks and rip one off and there’s a big laugh from the audience. It seems easy.

“But it’s bloody hard after you’ve farted for a bit to carry on talking. What I do is difficult and I do train a lot. It gets harder as you get older because your body gets less and less subtle. But I do a lot of yoga and stretching the hamstrings, trying to keep the abdominals tight which, at 47, is becoming difficult. Still, I think I’m in reasonable peak farting condition.

“I used to be able to do a full lotus position in yoga, though I can’t do it any more. But, when I could, I noticed I was naturally double-jointed and, when in this position, I could breathe both fore and aft.

Mr Methane, pumping prodigy, prepares to Fart A Dart

Mr Methane, the pumping prodigy, prepares to Fart A Dart

“At school, I became a pumping prodigy in the lunch hour. We used to break into the squash courts and I used to fart How Much Is That Doggie in The Window and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in exchange for pocket money.

“As you can see, I’ve not progressed 30 years later. A lot of people want to be on stage: Come over here! Look at me! I’ve always thought I want to be a train driver. But always I get pulled back to being on stage. I’m like a reluctant farter.”

If Mr Methane is a reluctant farter, Tim Fitzhigham is a wholehearted eccentric.

Tim Fitzhigham discussed increasingly prestigious eccentricity

Tim and increasingly prestigious eccentricity

I went for a chat with him last night after his Challenger show which has had extra dates added. We were talking about him appearing on the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show next Friday (23rd).

He is currently thinking about juggling ice on the show, although this may change, as I have already booked Mat Ricardo to juggle spaghetti.

We also talked about him appearing on my Fringe chat show next Wednesday afternoon, at which point he told me about an extra big charity show – only just announced – happening next Wednesday (11.59pm till late) at the massive McEwan Hall venue.

“I had a chat with Charlie and Ed who run it for the Underbelly venue,” Tim told me, “and they have given it to us for free.”

Tim occasionally does OTT gigs called Maxwell’s Fullmooners with Irish comic Andrew Maxwell. Next Wednesday’s charity gig is called PaulMooners: A Fullmooners Moontacular and co-stars Terry Alderton, Ed Byrne, Jason Byrne, Phill Jupius, Lady Carol, Glenn Wool – and John Bishop coming specially up from London for his only appearance at this year’s Fringe. Plus other names to be announced.

Why would they all appear on a Fullmooners show re-named PaulMooners?

Because the show is raising money for Paul Byrne, the highly-respected director of both Tim Fitzhigham’s Fringe show and Andrew Maxwell’s Fringe show. Paul, aged 36, has just discovered he has cancer – Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

“It was only diagnosed after the first Edinburgh show and we’re all more than a little bit shell-shocked,” Tim told me last night.

Paul Byrne has returned to London to embark on an intense course of chemotherapy. Tickets for next Wednesday’s Paulmooners charity show are £15 and can be bought from all five of the Edinburgh Comedy Festival box offices – Assembly, Gilded Balloon, Just The Tonic, Pleasance and Underbelly.

In the midst of comedy, real human life goes on.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, Eccentrics

2012 Malcolm Hardee Awards shortlist announced at the Edinburgh Fringe

Did I mention the Malcolm Hardee Show?

At the Edinburgh Fringe, when he meets people he knows in the street, comedian Lewis Schaffer’s opening line has now become: “What have you heard?”

“That’s a sign,” I told him, “either of a deep neurosis or a guilty conscience.”

“Both,” he replied.

I saw two comedy wannabes in the street this morning. Someone who looked like (but was not) John Hegley and someone who looked like (but was not) Dr Brown. You know you have a certain profile when wannabe lookalikes appear in the streets during the Edinburgh Fringe and/or when you become (as John Hegley did) one of the multiple choice answers on a primetime TV gameshow. I once saw a miniature version of Russell Brand walk across the Pleasance Courtyard in Edinburgh. It was not him. It was a miniature version of him.

I am looking forward to miniaturised clones of Lewis Schaffer roaming the comedy streets in the next few years.


At lunchtime today, we eventually decided the short list for this year’s Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards. People were hassling me (which is fine) to the end.

The sex tourist’s avenging postal courgette

I got an e-mail yesterday from Sex Tourist comedian Chris Dangerfield, which said:

This morning I received a parcel. How exciting. I opened it to find a courgette and an offer to pleasure myself with it.

There was a message enclosed (see picture) which said:



The note was signed


“It restores my faith in humanity,” Chris told me, “that people will make such efforts for someone who – although not exactly suffering a drought of such indulgences – will happily consider and most likely do as suggested.”

This morning, I got another e-mail from Chris:

I showed the letter and the courgette to Kate Copstick. Apparently courgettes are not good for the suggested purpose. ‘They snap’ she added, as one opts for the larger end and the smaller end can’t take it.

Chris Dangerfield got nominated for a Malcolm Hardee Award, but not for this.

In other Award-related news, the Awards’ designer John Ward sent me an e-mail:

It seems I have been ‘entered’ into the Life Long Passion Awards by an Italian woman who looked at me web site – The top prize is 22,000 Euros or, by the time the winner is announced at the end of the year, about £17 85p in our money…

 It appears that she works for this organisation and thinks I ‘fit the bill’ – which must be a small one, even with the Service Charge added..

The interesting thing is she works in Italy but used to work in England and can’t believe she missed me while she was over here.

Ha well.

I was so enjoying my obscurity as well.

Meanwhile Andy Dunlop, international president of the World Egg Throwing Federation, who is supervising our Russian Egg Roulette contest at the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show on Friday e-mailed me:

I am arriving in Edinburgh tomorrow, fresh from my triumph at the Worthing International Air Tattoo where I and Joel Hicks (the World Gravy Wrestling Champion) took the trophy (and a cheque for £500) for winning the Kingfisher Class. Our plan to pass the 100m metre mark and turn left for France failed at around 15m.

I will be bringing capes, bandannas and medals.  Eggs will be prepared closer to the day.

Shortly afterwards – we were supposed to meet up at 12.30pm – I got a text message from courgette expert and one of the Malcolm Hardee Award judges, Kate Copstick, which read:

Aaaaaargh. I have just been asked to talk about rape on Radio 2. I will be with you at 1pm

Eventually, we got together and this press release emerged…


The shortlist has been announced for the increasingly-prestigious, non-sponsored Fringe comedy awards which represent the true anarchic spirit of the Edinburgh Fringe. Nominees (in alphabetical order) for the three awards are:



… for his writing, producing and co-directing work on the Casual Violence comedy sketch shows. He was nominated last year, but his comic mind is still almost inexplicably weird.


… a long-time mate of Malcolm Hardee’s whose work each year is always original but who this year, according to Malcolm Hardee Award judge Kate Copstick, “has taken his comic originality to an entirely new level” in his Fylm Makker and La Concepta shows.


… because they are “feckin hilarious” and because we think they may have wisely not performed enough dates to qualify for the rival Fosters Comedy Awards just so they were more likely to get nominated for the increasingly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards

(for best publicity stunt promoting a Fringe show)


… for paying people £1 each to come to his stand-up show and 50p to watch his documentary. He says any money he gets from audiences at the end of his shows is being given to charity. “We think.” says Malcolm Hardee Awards organiser John Fleming, “that this says something post-modern about the economics of the present-day Fringe although, to save my life, I’m not quite sure what.”


… for getting his show Sex Tourist sponsored by a local escort agency. It is difficult enough to get sponsorship for Fringe shows, but (unlike most drink company sponsorship) this particular sponsorship is entirely relevant to the content of the show – and anyone with a flyer gets an alleged 10% off the escort agency’s prices.


… for turning this year’s ludicrous censorship of his and others’ listings in the Fringe Programme to his advantage and then posting a very effective YouTube video in which he said he would donate £1,000 of his own money to the Waverley Care HIV charity, but would deduct £100 from this every time a critic used a pun on the word ‘prick’ in their review.


The judges gave very serious consideration to nominating the concept of “having a heart attack” for the Cunning Stunt Award this year. American comedian Rick Shapiro was in hospital for three months, got out in late June and still came to the Fringe in August. Fellow American comic Andrew J.Lederer was (in his words) “buzz-sawed in two” for a heart operation but came to the Fringe less than three months later. Richard Tyrone Jones also had heart failure and Carey Marx got publicity by not coming to the Fringe because of his heart attack.

“This year,” says Malcolm Hardee judge Kate Copstick, “several very good comics have all come up with the same idea to win the increasingly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award – and that is to have a heart attack. I admire their dedication, but too many people got on the bandwagon. A couple of guys were also in car crashes. We at the increasingly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards Committee are thrilled that people are going to such lengths to seek nominations but for Health & Safety reasons – and because we’re not insured – they should maybe think about stopping here.

“Andrew J Lederer not only had a heart attack but is doing six shows per day all this week – at least, that’s what he told me. And Bob Slayer has not yet had a heart attack but is risking liver failure with his extraordinary nightly intake of drink in a sordid attempt to get noticed by the Committee.

“He and comedian Jeff Leach were allegedly mutually masturbating each other on stage at Espionage in an attempt, I think, to get a nomination. But we at the Committee are choosy in our nominations here at the increasingly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards.”

So ‘Having a Heart Attack’ has not been nominated.



… because he has potential in depth with TV series, book, DVD and live show potential. He is also a gambler which means he might either make a million quid or end up a million quid in debt, which is very much in keeping with the spirit of Malcolm Hardee’s life.


… because, perhaps not in keeping with the spirit of Malcolm Hardee, Trevor epitomises ‘class’ on stage. We think he is going to be snapped up and will be playing Carnegie Hall type venues soon.


… who are also nominated for the main Comic Originality Award. Like 2010 Award winner, Bo Burnham, their work on the internet may mean they break through massively to a worldwide audience. According to Malcolm Hardee Award organiser John Fleming, “We also want to suck up to the Youth audience who may not know of Malcolm.”


The winners of the Awards will be announced on Friday 24th August during a free-to-enter two-hour variety show at The Counting House in Edinburgh as part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival. The show starts at 2300 and ends at 0100 on Saturday morning.

The two-hour variety show hosted by Miss Behave will include the Greatest Show on Legs performing their Naked Balloon Dance, a Russian Egg Roulette contest supervised by Andy Dunlop, international president of the World Egg Throwing Federation… plus Charlie Chuck, Richard Herring, Otto Kuhnle, Mat Ricardo, Arthur Smith, Paul Zenon and a host of other unlikely acts.

The Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show will be followed by one of comedian Arthur Smith’s infamous night-time tours of the Royal Mile. In the past, these have, alas, ended in nudity, anarchic behaviour and, on one occasion, the arrest of comedian Simon Munnery by police in the mistaken belief he was a German. Arthur Smith’s tour leaves from the Castle entrance at 0200 in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards are given in memory of “one of the most anarchic figures of his era” – “the greatest influence on British comedy over the last 25 years” and the “godfather to a generation of comic talent”… Malcolm Hardee.

The Awards began in 2005 (or 2007, depending on how you count) and will run until 2017 because that’s the number of trophies which were made. The Awards are not sponsored and no-one organising them or judging them takes any money to cover costs. Entry to the Awards Show is free. 100% of any monies donated by audience members on their way out of the Awards Show on Friday night will go direct to Scotsman comedy critic Kate Copstick’s Mama Biashara charity.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy

Edinburgh Fringe: culture, crowds and bodily fluids plus British eccentricity

Bob Boyton at Scots book launch

After I eventually prised myself out of the clutches of sleep yesterday morning (I refer you to my previous blog), I ended up at the Scottish book launch of former stand-up comedian Bob Boyton’s novel Bomber Jackson Does Some, an extraordinary piece of work about which I’ve blogged before.

“I hope that one of the things I’ve covered in this book,” said Bob, “is the experience of being skint, which is often not reflected in literary fiction, although it’s almost always reflected in crime fiction. I think if there was a genre called ‘social realism’ any more, that’s probably where I’d place this book.”

I had no sooner left the cultural oasis of the Word Power Books shop, than I got brought back to earth with a bang by news from comedian Chris Dangerfield, whose Sex Tourist show is sponsored by a local Edinburgh escort agency.

A man fainted at the very thought of Chris Dangerfield’s show

“A man fainted halfway through my gig last night,” he told me, “just as I said This next bit is a tad gross – the joke being that the whole show had been a bit bleak up to that point. The story I almost told is actually about ‘a multiple bodily fluids accident’ but I had not even got into the details when this punter spasmed a little and fell off his chair. Commotion ensued, I quickly got help and he was revived with lots of fanning and lying down, which took about five minutes. He was then taken off and I continued with my show, making a point of getting everyone to agree what a rude and insensitive thing it was for him to do during my fantastic show, which still ended very well.

The queue for Chris Dangerfield’s comedy show at The Hive

“I’ve been turning people away every night due to too many people,” Chris continued.

Normally, I would treat any comedian telling me that with a gigantic pinch of salt, but I had seen his queues the previous day.

“I’ve had more than one management/agent,” Chris claimed, “ask me to recommend their paid shows at the end of my free show. I wonder if they would do the same for me?”

Phil Kay’s show, unbilled in the Fringe Programme, got ’em in

Chris Dangerfield’s show is on at the Hive, which is also where Phil Kay’s unbilled show has been running (it finished last night).

I failed to get in to see the show on its penultimate night, because it was so crowded by the time I arrived. Even Bob Slayer failed to get into the room that night – and he was staging the show!

“I rammed people in standing,” Bob told me, “then managed to sell four more tickets to sit in the sound booth. I called them ‘box seats’ and charged double.”

As for Bob’s own show Bob Slayer – He’s a Very Naughty Boy – well, he is not the sort of man who keeps to a pre-prepared script. So it came as no surprise when he told me: “I managed to get halfway through it today – the furthest I’ve managed by a long shot. Tomorrow I am going to start at the point I finished off today, as it’s an especially good bit.”

Ever the consummate professional, he added: “I am giddy with drink. Next week the real fun starts, though. Shall we burn down things?”

In Tim’s audience last night was Nicholas Parsons

Then I was off to see Tim FitzHigham’s Pleasance show Stop The Pigeon which, I guess, falls halfway between culture and anarchic English eccentricity. In his introduction, Tim said: “Other people just do shows. I get an idea and follow it through with the relentless commitment of a cartoon character.”

That pretty much sums him up.

You cannot not like Tim’s enthusiasm. His show is a romp and his facts near impossible to believe, even though they are all true. This year, it was about another unlikely adventurous bet he took on, this one involving pigeons, a very large cannon and a trampoline. But he also managed to admirably mention in passing the sadly-no-longer-with-us 18th century Farting Club of Cripplegate “whose avowed intention was to meet up once a week to poison the local atmosphere and, with their noisy crepitations, attempt to out-fart one another.

“But ask yourself who,” said Tim, “would want to live in the building next door to the Farting Club of Cripplegate? Let me tell you – this is true – the No Nose Club for gentlemen who had lost their noses in an heroical fashion.”

Tim, father to be, surprised by NHS

After the show, Tim told me he is to become a father again in October and he knows it will be a boy despite the fact the NHS is now barred from telling potential parents the sex of their future child.

“Well, that’s the explanation they gave to me, anyway,” said Tim. “The story goes that some woman – allegedly in Chelsea – was told the sex of her unborn child and decorated the nursery in either blue or pink – she spent an absolute fortune – and it turned out to be the wrong one so she sued the hospital for the cost of the nursery. As a result, the NHS are not allowed to tell you the sex of your unborn baby but, when they hovered the thing over my wife, my future son waved his dangly bits to the camera. So we do know.”

Tim was a Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award nominee last year and now (no connection, alas) has an up-coming ten-part TV series for CBBC.

“It’s tramsmitted in January,” he told me. “It’s called Superhumans and I fly all over the world meeting people with biological or genetic quirks which mean they can do extraordinarily weird stuff that the rest of us can’t do.

“So, for example, I flew to Iceland to meet a man who can withstand extreme cold. For some reason he is able to consciously control the hypothalamus in his brain.

“The hypothalamus regulates core body temperature and he can literally tell his core body temperature to go up and no-one’s quite sure how he’s doing it. So I challenged him to three challenges to try and prove how superhuman he is – or not. Because, if I can beat him, then the implication is he’s faking it.”

“Does this come under the heading of science?” I asked.

“It comes under the heading of a lot of fun,” said Tim.

And so does Tim.

When I woke up this morning, there was an e-mail from Bob Slayer sent at 3.03am. It simply said:

“Phil Kay was last seen in the Jazz Bar, killing time before his 5.00am flight back to civilisation, juggling chairs.”

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Comedy, Eccentrics, Science, Television

Day Two of Malcolm Hardee Week – physical threats and censorship

I pity the poor Prime Minister.

Well, maybe “poor” is not the correct word.

But David Cameron was off abroad having a holiday and got dragged back to London because riots were going on.

Then he’s having a holiday in Cornwall and he gets dragged back to London because the Libyan rebels have taken Tripoli.

Totally unnecessary. This is the 21st century. You don’t need to be in any particular place to sort things out. Yesterday, when we were supposed to draw up a shortlist for the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe – just as important as Libya, I would argue – one of the judges had been dragged back to London to interview someone-or-other; and another was stuck in the wrong part of Edinburgh. But it was simple enough to communicate with each other. And we all half-had ideas from e-mails and accidental meetings in the previous two weeks anyway.

It is all a bit vague. It is the fourth week of the Fringe – or Week Three as it is officially called to maintain the spirit of the Fringe.

Fringeitis has kicked in – a long recognised and largely unavoidable ailment that affects the throats of performers and the brains of hangers-on like me.

Last night, at the second Malcolm Hardee Debate (“Racist or sexist jokes? It doesn’t matter if they’re funny!”) we only had three instead of four participants.

Rab C.Nesbitt creator Ian Pattison had buggered his back in Glasgow and could not make it to Edinburgh.

Viz magazine creator Simon Donald had ‘Fringe throat’, that long-recognised Edinburgh ailment. As did Hardeep Singh Kohli, who had a spoon and a bottle of medicine in his top pocket to ease the throat.

Topping them both, Maureen Younger had been bitten twice by some dodgy Scots beastie (clearly neither cow’rin nor tim’rouson the back of her left leg, behind the knee, so she was filled with anti-histamines and feeling woozy.

None of this was visible on stage, of course. They bubbled and entertained and appeared on top form. Ah! the joys of performance!

I am not in any way a performer, so two nights on the trot on a stage did not fill me with the post-show adrenaline that performers sometimes have. I just felt shagged-out and my brain switched off immediately afterwards.

This could explain why, when two people approached me separately after the shows – one saying he liked this blog and one saying we had been Facebook friends twice (no, I don’t know either) I did not chat at length. Indeed, not at all. I got distracted by other things happening at the end of the show. Oh lord. I do apologise to them.

Fringeitis affects performers’ throats but my brain.

As for the Malcolm Hardee Awards, we nominated thus:


Doctor Brown for oddness beyond necessity and comedy beyond reason

James Hamilton as the odd writer, producer, director, actor and creator of Casual Violence

Bob Slayer for going beyond OTT into uncharted areas of comedy excess

Johnny Sorrow for simply being a bizarre act Malcolm Hardee would have loved

CUNNING STUNT AWARD (for best Fringe publicity stunt)

Tim FitzHigham for breaking multiple bones and damaging bone marrow to pursue comedy

Kunt and the Gang for pushing his sticky penis stunt way beyond what seemed possible

Sanderson Jones for selling all his show tickets only to people he himself has met


Benet Brandtreth – if he doesn’t make a million on stage, he’ll make it as a lawyer

Josh Widdicombe – possibly the new Michael McIntyre

The shortlist was reported in various media, possibly helped by the fact I put in brief quotes after the acts. Doing that means the press can lift the quotes without having to think anything up. The phrase “for oddness beyond necessity and comedy beyond reason” proved particularly attractive.

The media reporting the Malcolm Hardee Awards shortlist yesterday included BBC News online, which referred to one of the performers as “The act, which we will call KATG”

Kunt and the Gang is going to have problems with that name. The Fringe Society apparently told him that they would only print the name of the act and the show in the Fringe Programme if he put an umlaut over the ‘u’ in Kunt.

That is the least of Kunt’s problems. A press release from his promoters this morning was headed:


It is not really my/our fault…!

Edinburgh Council is still threatening him with a £3,000 fine if any more ‘cock stickers’ appear on other shows’ posters.

One agent sent him an invoice for a four-figure sum for damage to one Scottish act’s posters with the mild threat: “I would also recommend this invoice is paid immediately and discreetly as if it is not I will make my actions known to all the other producers affected and you can then expect a lot more of these and some from people who will be far more forceful that I will be thru the law in order to recoup.”

In reply, Kunt’s admirable PR people say he will “happily reveal the name of the Comedy Agent and send you a copy of the Comedy Invoice in return for a donation to the Cock Aid appeal. Details on request.”

There is also the unreported fact that one prominent London-based promoter has made physical threats of “sending the boys in” to sort out Kunt. And it is not even the one promoter you might assume would say this.

Various acts are now, to show support to Kunt, wearing cock stickers. I am particularly impressed by the one sported by Frank Sanazi.

At the time of writing this, the Third Reich’s favourite crooner is in London performing pre-booked gigs but he will be returning to Edinburgh on Friday, solely to appear in the highly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards Show.

The Malcolm Hardee Awards Show is 10.00pm to midnight in the ballroom of The Counting House as part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival – no tickets, free admission – Friday 26th August.

The Edinburgh Fringe is about shameless promotion.

Now I had better prepare for the two days of spaghetti-juggling events I perhaps foolishly decided to put on outdoors Outside the Beehive Inn in the Grassmarket… 6.15-7.00pm tonight and tomorrow…

It is looking like it might rain…

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy, Crime, PR

Malcolm Hardee Week starts to fall apart – ?

What an interesting man Tim FitzHigham is.

If being successful involves a high percentage of sheer luck in being in the right place at the right time, he will soon be mega-famous.

He has his feet and image well inside the differing markets of English eccentricity, mad adventurer type, sophisticated and nostalgic Flanders and Swann entertainment, children’s shows and Andrew Maxwell’s madly OTT Fullmooners alternative comedy shows.

One of those areas must hit paydirt for him at some point, especially as he seems willing to literally break every bone in his body in the quest for a laugh.

He mesmerised me over a drink last night with tales of an English equivalent of  William McGonnagal, lauded like a stand-up comic in Elizabethan times because he thought he was a serious poet but his poems were so crap people loved to hear them.

And then Tim had tales of carousing in Soho pubs with actor Richard Harris, a man of legendary drinking capacity.

And, to top it all, it also turned out (because of an eccentric escapade with a paper boat) that Tim is an honorary member of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames and told me that late comic Malcolm Hardee and Malcolm’s father (a Thames lighterman) are both fondly remembered.

Tim also has access to unpublished and unperformed Flanders & Swann songs, which is something I would certainly like to hear at a future Edinburgh Fringe.

Meanwhile, Malcolm Hardee Week at the Fringe starts, inevitably, to fall apart.

No problem with tonight’s Malcolm Hardee Comedy Punch-Up Debate on the proposition that “Comedians are psychopathic masochists with a death wish” based on a blog I wrote a while ago.

As far as I know, Kate Copstick, Janey Godley, Paul Provenza and Bob Slayer will all turn up to argue the toss at The Hive venue 6.15-7.00pm. Five people; five chairs; two microphones – it’s the Free Festival.

But the lovely Miss Behave, due to host Friday’s Malcolm Hardee Award Show, is now too ill to do it – she has meningitis and is returning to London.

And two people who were coming up to Edinburgh to help me on people control at Wednesday’s/Thursday’s spaghetti-juggling and Friday’s two hour Malcolm Hardee Awards Show – which is really a variety show with an unfeasible number of performers – are not coming.

So I am now desperately seeking a new host and two people to help me. No money on offer. But a free copy to each of the two helpers of Malcolm Hardee’s out-of-print cult autobiography I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake.

How could anyone resist?


Filed under Comedy, Theatre

How one comic broke his own bones for an Edinburgh Fringe comedy show

Kunt and the Gang’s ‘cockgate’ saga is not the only Edinburgh Fringe publicity stunt which might be considered for the Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award next week – the judges meet on Tuesday to decide a shortlist.

Tim FitzHigham might be in there for unintentionally getting attention with bone-breaking. The fact that a publicity stunt is unintentional does not necessarily disqualify it from winning a Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award – as Stewart Lee proved last year.

For his Fringe show Tim Fitzhigham: Gambler, Tim tried to recreate the ten weirdest wagers and strangest bets in history. He says:

“Some of them we don’t know who won and some we don’t even know if they’re possible so I wanted to find out.

“Early on,” he tells me, “while doing this, I broke a finger. It was actually in an unrelated cricketing accident (playing for a comedians 11 in a charity match). The doctor re-set it but, it being a finger, after a couple of drinks one night I knocked it and broke it again on a table. They re-set it again and, by accident, I broke it again – this time while training for one of my bets. They re-set it again (by this time the doctor was getting a little less happy to see me). Again it broke and, this time, he decided to re-set it using large amounts of metal – a sort of mini-Barry Sheene approach! We thought there was no chance it could break again with a load of metal in it. So, after four breaks, all seemed well.

“Unfortunately, the metal poked out of the end of my finger and caused one of the most undignified scenes I have ever been involved in. While attempting to wash myself, I somehow managed to get my finger hook attached to my testicles.

“I went into the bedroom where my wife was trying to get out of her dress and she asked Could you un-hook me? I replied I’ll unhook you if you unhook me first. She turned and gazed at me with a look I can only imagine a fisherman gives to a catch he knows he’s never going to eat… It is a very testing time in a marriage, looking down to see the woman you love unhooking your hand from your plums.

“Then, while training to take-on a race horse in a 100 yard dash, I slipped and fell down a slope impaling myself on a fence post. It could have been quite bad but, luckily for me, I only fractured a rib. I tried to postpone it but the horse was adamant so I had to enter the race against the horse with a broken finger and fractured rib.

“I mention this to the audience in my show to give them a fair indication of the form.

“All these attempts had involved bets so, at this stage, my gambling losses were getting crippling so there was no chance of taking time off to recuperate.

“I had also entered into a bet to roll a cheese board over four miles. It is a very old cheese board and quite heavy and you have to throw it 60 metres per go to stand any chance of winning the bet. Needless to say, with my broken finger and fractured rib not helping… I sprained a wrist.

“The next bet involved pulling a 1 pound weight on a mile of rope. It was not entirely pain-free.

“Then we come to the wheelbarrow incident.

“I had taken on a wheelbarrow bet – it was originally done in  1789 by a man called Goliath Shadbolt (not a promising name to attempt to beat at anything).

“You have to push a wheelbarrow from Ware in Hertfordshire to Shoreditch in London in under 6 hours – that is just shy of a marathon distance, so it is quite a competitive time. On the way, I hurt my big toe on the wheelbarrow. It hurt a lot. We thought I had split it.

“The good news was that I had not split it… Hurrah!

“The bad news was that it was fractured… Bother!

“That covers the breakages…

“Then, of course, the metal fell out of my hand.

“I tried to pop it back in and got it most of the way back in but could not manage that last bit. So I arrived back at the hospital to see the same now grim-faced doctor who, after various x-rays etc, decided that the metal had not fallen out but that my body had rejected it as being infected and, as a result, I had now contracted an infection in my bone marrow!

“On 1st August, he said I should not travel more than one hour away from the hospital where he practices in East Anglia so, naturally, I came up to Edinburgh and started the run of my show. My losses were now running so high there was really no other choice – Where else could I find so many other people losing so much money?

“I accept that, medically, it was a bit of a gamble doing this but luckily it seems to have paid off in so much as the infection has not flared up again and hopefully I will keep my bone marrow and not turn to jelly by the end of the month.

“I would wager few have ever chased a punchline this hard – and none have found it less consistently!

“PS… Then, of course, there was a death in the family.

“What a month!”

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, PR, Theatre

Cunning stunts and a Kunt apology

I complained in my blog yesterday that there were no classic Malcolm Hardee style cunning stunts around at the Edinburgh Fringe this year.

And, of course, since then people have been telling me about broken bones and hospitalisation. I’m not sure these totally count as publicity stunts – more like the wrath of humourless god. But…

First of all Adrian Rox told me about comedian Jeff Mirza being physically attacked as he walked down the Royal Mile dressed as Colonel Gaddafi. The reason remains shrouded in mystery. Possibly some American tourists, famously weak on geography, thought they had accidentally wandered into Libya, got drunk and lived out their dream of being SEALS. The near-constant rain might have stoked their aquatic fantasy.

Then Kate Copstick, aka Cruella de Cowell from ITV1’s Show Me the Funny, told me about Tim Fitzhigham’s extraordinary run of bad luck while preparing for and performing his show Tim Fitzhigham: Gambler.

He has chipped and broken multiple bones. Malcolm Hardee only destroyed his body with excessive drink and occasional drugs. I think Tim may be trying too hard to win a Malcolm Hardee Award next week.

Then we have the lovely and very highly talented Miss Behave, host of the upcoming Malcolm Hardee Award Show on Friday 26th August. She has been laid low in London with potentially-fatal meningitis for the last few weeks and only a few days managed to struggle up to Edinburgh to host her extraordinary variety show The Mess at Assembly in George Square.

I wandered over to George Square to see her in the rain yesterday afternoon and found her wearing what I think was a bear costume. Well, it was quite cuddly and had bear-like ears. She was not wearing this for publicity purposes, she was not in public view and it was around six hours before her show started. She was just dressed as a bear. Perhaps I should have asked questions. I did not.

Last night, in The Mess, she recreated the Malcolm Hardee/Greatest Show on Legs’ naked balloon dance with original GSOL member (and what an appropriate word that is in the circumstances) Chris Lynam, Steve Aruni and Bob Slayer. I could not be there because I was watching Janey Godley storm Paul Provenza’s jam-packed Set List: Standup Without a Net, which has had to move from the Tron to the larger Caves to accommodate the punters.

Bob Slayer tells me that, back in George Square, after the balloon dance, he “ended up running around the Assembly area  naked – as one does – and I caused Tim Key a suitable level of confusion by hugging him and doing a poem”.

I suspect this is only a low-key start to the mayhem that Miss Behave may visit on unsuspecting, unprepared Fringe-goers who attend The Mess.

Bob Slayer – you would not think it to look at him – is keen on Kunt and the Gang and I would not be surprised if they connived on publicity. In 2009, Lewis Schaffer showed the value of apologetic press releases in garnering publicity with a press-released ‘apology’ to the Edinburgh Comedy Awards which managed to plug his own show twice – in detail.

I was never totally convinced by Kunt’s recent scam of sticking paper penises on other shows’ posters. But yesterday’s ‘apologetic’ press release manages not only to get publicity for himself but to add in what are, in effect, review quotes from other performers. I print the apology below without comment, but it possibly deserves a review of its own.


Sorry About The Cocks:

Kunt and the Gang would like to apologise to anyone who is upset about the ‘crudely drawn cock’ stickers that have been appearing all over posters in Edinburgh. When we had 5000 of the cock stickers printed in the run up to the Fringe Festival we just thought it would be a light-hearted alternative to flyers. The plan was to give them to our audience each night so they could go out and vote with their cocks by sticking them in amusing places on posters. It was intended to be one big jolly jape that everyone laughed along with. This I now know was a badly misjudged joke that horribly backfired.

Unfortunately it was brought to our attention that some comedians were extremely angry at seeing their posters adorned with an effigy of a male member. This culminated in myself being physically threatened by one irate comic who failed to see the funny side of his poster being decorated by a member of the public with a crudely drawn image of a man’s winky.

Further to this, after only four nights of the audience being handed stickers at the end of my show, I received a warning from the Fringe Police and was told that Underbelly had threatened action should any more of my stickers be handed out. I suspect the cock that broke the camel’s back was the penis that ended up in Christine Hamilton’s wine glass on their flagship poster on Bristo Square. The same night I received a visit at my venue from Edinburgh Council Environmental Dept who told us that they had spent the day pulling off over a hundred cocks. They showed us examples of cocks they had found on posters, including the one of Russell Kane with his mouth open, the one of Richard Herring lying on a bed and the one of the Spank Comedy Club with that bird bending over. I gave them my assurance to that no more cock stickers would be given out.

I would like to take this opportunity to say my cocks were not meant maliciously or designed to annoy anyone and I sincerely apologise if one of my cocks got up anyone’s nose. Admittedly I didn’t think it through properly. I mistakenly thought everyone would share my enthusiasm for seeing Edinburgh covered in crudely drawn cocks for a month. In retrospect I realise I was like America selling Weapons of Mass Destruction to the Middle East without a thought for who my cock shaped missiles would be affecting. Furthermore I would also like to apologise to any of the performers who have had a cock removed and are now left where the sticker once was or a ‘ghost cock’. I’m sorry if my cock cheesed anyone off.

Kunt (Kunt and the Gang)

Notes to Editors

– Yesterday Stewart Lee, the thinking man’s comic, went to see Kunt and the Gang, the most puerile show on the fringe, for the second night in a row. Mr Lee, and his wife Bridget Christie, once again laughed like drains throughout renditions of classic Kunt songs such as: Wanking Over a Pornographic Polaroid of an Ex-girlfriend Who Died, Fucksticks and Hurry Up and Suck Me Off Before I Get Famous.

– Serial prankster Lewis Schaffer was asked what he thought about it all and he said: “Well I was thinking of going to see Russell Kane’s show but when I saw his poster I was worried that he might be a cock sucker and so have decided to give it a miss.”

Russell Kane: “I actually found it fucking funny! Keep printing cocks and saying it too. It’s proper funny.”

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy, PR