Tag Archives: wedding

The vicar, the talking penis and the Edinburgh venue which restricts acts

Dave Thompson (centre) the fake vicar

Dave Thompson (centre) as the fake vicar at the TV wedding

In yesterday’s blog, comedy actor Dave Thompson mentioned in passing that he had recently been “a fake vicar at a TV executive’s wedding.”

Obviously, I wanted to know more.

“Well, basically,” Dave told me, “a senior person at Channel 5 (she works in digital sales and is not directly involved in production) wanted to have a ‘different’ sort of wedding.  The couple approached Geoff Whiting of Mirth Control comedy agency, who thought I was best suited to the job.  He had seen me playing an insane killer attacking and fighting Harry Hill in Harry’s recent live show Sausage Time.

“I met the couple at the wedding venue in Surrey. There was a minstrels’ gallery at the back of the room and a kitchen to the side of the ‘stage’ area, where the ceremony would take place. We decided I should pretend to be a vicar and they liked my suggestion that the caterers should make a lot of noise in the kitchen, prompting me to have an argument with them.

“The couple were married in secret the day before, so all 150 guests including the best man thought I was a real vicar, until the end of the ceremony.

“It started normal, then I quoted some extreme passages from the Old Testament about adultery and death.

“I adapted a normal wedding script, putting some of my own material in it:

Mark, you are a very handsome young man. Emily, you are an exceptionally attractive young woman. I am going to ask you both in turn to declare that you are free to marry one another. I hope that you will share a marital bed and perhaps, as dawn lights up the garden of the house you will one day be able to afford (preferably in a nice area), Emily’s slumbering leg will brush against Mark’s leg. This will lead to caresses and the flowing of conjugal juice.  Emily, may perfect milk abound from your perfect bosoms. And one day, may that milk of kindness mature into the cheese of wisdom.

Dave’s vicar garb, including axe and optional animal sacrifice

Dave’s vicar garb, including axe and optional animal sacrifice

“When I stripped off to my purple Lycra leotards and tights (custom made for my appearance in Ben Elton’s feature film Maybe Baby) and did a fertility dance down the aisle, the congregation started to wonder if, perhaps, I was not a real vicar. I danced provocatively and put my leg over the balustrade.

“I then produced an axe and sacrificed a small animal (cuddly toy) for their abundance. I qualified this by saying I’d just returned from several years serving in rural Africa, and had been influenced by their rituals.

“At the end of the performance, the bride and groom walked down the aisle and out of the wedding barn as if the ceremony had been completely normal.

“The couple paid me a very good fee and I hope to get more work like this, as it’s easier than stand-up and had a massive impact on the 150 people in the congregation – though I had to keep it fairly clean in case I offended any of the older people there.”

So there you have it: a blatant attempt by a stand-up comedian to tout for more work.

But he is not as desperate as Harry Deansway.

In other news, yesterday I got an e-mail from Harry, the publicity-hungry publisher-turned-comedian:

Harry the performer - as he wants to be seen

I ask you in all honesty Would you interview this man’s penis?

“After years on the sketch circuit,” it said, “my penis is hoping to finally get his big break in my Edinburgh show Wrong Way and is looking for press opportunities. I am e-mailing you on behalf of my penis as he is very shy, so if you would like to speak with my penis it would have to be via e-mail.”

I e-mailed back a rejection because:

“It sounds like your penis doesn’t have the balls to email me itself.”

Finally yesterday, I was told The Stand venue at the Edinburgh Fringe will not issue any tickets to any Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award judges this year – although it has done that without any problem for the past six years – both via the main Fringe Office and via The Stand’s own Press Office.

EdFringe2011PassA

Acceptable to the venue in years past…

EdFringe2011PassB

the Malcolm Hardee Awards Show pass

As a result, no acts appearing at The Stand will be considered or nominated for any increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award this year.

Since when has the venue not the performer decided who should be allowed to see their shows?

Since a long time ago in The Stand’s case, as it has a long and undistinguished record in restrictive practices which adversely affect acts’ careers.

To quote Malcolm Hardee, “Fuck ‘em.” He would have gone round and pissed on their stage.

But The Stand has been taking the piss for too long already.

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Filed under Comedy, Edinburgh

See London West End shows for free

Diane Soencer performing at Soho Theatre yesterday

Diane Spencer performed at launch yesterday

I went to Soho Theatre yesterday for the London launch of this year’s Brighton Fringe. The event was unticketed but there was a guest list.

Inside the auditorium, I got into conversation with a man who had wandered in off the street randomly.

“I was passing,” he told me, “and it looked like something was happening, so I just came in. I smiled at the girls on the door. It looked like a PR thing where there might be free food and drink. I go to see a lot of plays and musicals in the West End for free.”

“How do you do that?” I asked.

“I only go to see things that have been running a while,” he told me. “so there will always be some empty seats. I guess when the interval is going to be, get there a bit earlier and wander up to the bar. They don’t check for tickets on the door. I go up to the bar and wait for the audience to come out for the interval.

“When the interval ends and the audience goes back in, I wait in the bar until they’re all seated, then go in, look for an empty seat and go sit in it.”

“But,” I asked, “Don’t the people sitting next to what had been an empty seat look a bit surprised?”

“Not really,” the man told me. “Sometimes they do a bit, but I guess they just think I’m very late.”

“Have you ever been thrown out for not having a ticket?” I asked.

“Never,” he said.

“Don’t you have trouble following the plot if you’ve missed the first half?”

“Not often,” he told me. “And, with musicals, it doesn’t matter much. I know roughly what the story is about. I check in advance. Most people go for the songs. So do I.”

“How long have you been doing this?” I asked.

“A couple of years,” he told me.

“I’ve always thought,” I said, “that it would be a good scam to go round churches on a Saturday afternoon when there are a lot of weddings. If you go in, they just ask if you are with the bride or the groom. They will direct you to sit at one side of the church or the other and, after the wedding, you could probably get to the Reception and get free food and drink. But I could never be bothered trying it.”

“There would be no spare seat for you at the Reception,” the man told me. “And wasn’t there a film about that?”

“Could have been,” I said.

“I never saw it,” the man said.

“Nor me,” I said. “If there was one.”

There was a long pause.

“I once went with two friends to Luton Airport on a Saturday night,” I said. “People never go to airports unless they have to, so I thought it might be interesting to have a night out at Luton Airport like it was a social event. Or a holiday. A one-night holiday at Luton Airport.”

The man did not look interested.

“We had a meal there,” I persevered. “We bought Luton Airport cowboy hats – Why Luton Airport had cowboy hats I don’t know – and we went to the Arrivals area and waved at people coming back from their holidays.

“It wasn’t as interesting as I thought it might be,” I admitted. “I thought it would be interesting to go for no reason to somewhere you never normally go to unless you have a reason. I suggested we should go to a hospital the next time. People don’t go to hospitals unless they have to and you can wander anywhere you like. I thought we might just see where we could wander. My friends thought it was in slightly bad taste.”

“Oh,” said the stranger at Soho Theatre, clearly bored.

He started taking photographs of the stage show.

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Filed under Humor, Humour, Theatre

The untold story of comedian Malcolm Hardee’s extraordinarily odd wedding

Jacki Cook and Jon Hale remember in Whitstable yesterday

Jacki Cook and Jon Hale run the Emporium, a vintage clothing shop in Greenwich which also supplies costumes to the movie industry – they supplied jackets for Tom Cruise in his first two Mission Impossible films.

They were also friends of the ‘godfather of British alternative comedy’ Malcolm Hardee and supplied his clothing when he got married to Jane in 1994. I was there that day and – like his funeral in 2005 – it is not an experience anyone present is ever likely to forget. But I did not know the full story until I had a day trip to Whitstable with Jacki and Jonathan yesterday.

The way Malcolm told it in his autobiography I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake:

On the morning I was married, Julia was rushing around making sure the wedding suit I got from Jonathan Ross was alright and Annie The German gave me this bottle of German rum. It was about ten times the proof of normal British rum. I only had a couple and then I staggered off to the wedding at 11 o’clock.

After the Registry Office, I went back home and had four hours to recover before the Church Blessing at 5.00pm – or so I thought. But Annie The German gave me another rum and spiked it with some sort of hallucinogenic drug. It’s some liquid stuff they have over in Germany – a mixture of amphetamine, hallucinogenic and some other stuff.

I suppose she thought she was doing me a favour.

Emporium kitted me out with tails and a top hat and all that game, though I didn’t wear the top hat. Didn’t look right on me.

Someone had painted HELP! on the soles of my shoes – which I didn’t know about – so that when I knelt down in church everyone in the congregation could read it. I felt a bit faint halfway through, so I had to go to sit down on one side.

“It was Jon who wrote HELP,” Jacki told me yesterday.

“We supplied him with his outfit for the wedding,” explained Jon. “He came to our house to get the clothes to get dressed for the wedding. But Malcolm had seen a bag of dope at a friend’s house…”

“…and he had smoked it,” said Jacki, “and, what with everything else, that was it. He was finished.”

“I’d done his shoes the night before the wedding,” explained Jon, “with the letters HE written on the sole of his left shoe and LP on the sole of his right shoe. Obviously, I didn’t tell him.”

“He looked nice in his suit,” said Jacki.

“When did he find out about HELP being on the soles of his shoes?” I asked Jon. “Did he ask afterwards why people laughed when he knelt down?”

“Malcolm was totally wiped-out,” Jon explained. “Remember halfway through the ceremony he had to sit down and the vicar had to…”

“Oh!” said Jacki, remembering. “Malcolm keeled over, didn’t he!”

“He had to go to the bench…” Jon continued.

“Didn’t someone else almost get married to Jane?” I said, dimly remembering what I saw. When Malcolm had had to go and sit down, his best man – comedian Martin Soan – stood-in for him at the altar while the vicar warbled on until Malcolm was able to stand again. It had looked, for a time, as if Malcolm was not going to be able to stand again in time for the vows.

“It was close,” agreed Jon. “Malcolm could only just get through the ceremony.”

“He said I do,” Jacki reminded us. “And then he lost it.”

“Malcolm disappeared into one of the Confession booths,” said Jon. “And everybody…”

“He was being sick in there…” said Jacki.

“… everybody was waiting for him to come out and he was being ill in there, wasn’t he…” added Jon.

“…and that mad German woman was there,” Jacki reminded us. “Annie The German. Clare’s (Malcolm’s sister’s) pen friend. But Malcolm used to write her filthy letters, didn’t he, when they were kids. And she was mad for Malcolm. She wanted to marry Malcolm. He said it was such a shock when he saw her.”

“I think I met her at the wedding,” I said.

“She’s crazy,” said Jacki.

“She was a chemist,” said Jon. “She made this stuff and was going round giving us all these little drops from this pipette thing. A thing she’d engineered herself.”

“She was pretty crazy,” said Jacki. “Two hundred Rothmans cigarettes and a bottle of whisky in the handbag. A big 200 pack of Rothmans… ‘kin hell, Malcolm was scared of her, but it was because he’d sent her all these filthy letters. She was Claire’s pen friend… The German!” Jacki laughed. “Annie The German!…”

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Filed under Comedy, Drugs, Marriage, Weddings