In the morning, I got queries because some prat had put comments on multiple performers’ listings on the Edinburgh Fringe website congratulating them for winning the Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality. The messages were signed ‘Malcolm Hardee’.
None of them had won.
Malcolm drowned in 2005.
Performers with experience of the Fringe thought the messages were odd but dismissed them as fake. Many newer performers took them at face value, thought they had won an Award and were then disappointed.
In at least two cases, performers new to the Fringe were in tears.
I contacted the squatters who are staging a comedy play Malcolm Hardee – Back From The Drink tonight, the central conceit of which is that Malcolm faked his own drowning and has returned to the Fringe. Yesterday, they were keen to promote it.
They claimed it was not them.
I posted on social media a carefully measured and restrained message:
Someone is posting on the EdFringe site entries for random performers telling them that they have won the Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality.
They have not.
The shortlist was announced on Monday.
The winners are not decided until Friday. No-one has yet won any Malcolm Hardee Award and only those on the short list could win.
This has so far resulted in several people being disappointed and at least two people being reduced to tears.
If anyone knows the psychopathic cunt who is trying to hurt other performers, let me know. And if anyone would like to break the fucking legs and arms of the person doing it, I would be obliged.
In a physical injury totally unconnected with this, comic Phil Chippendale turned up at the increasingly prestigious Grouchy Club a couple of days ago after a visit to hospital.
He told us then that he had had four stitches in his head but, today, he revised that to say it was only a three stitch wound, “but it read like a four”.
Ian Dunn of the British Comedy Guide, a regular at the Grouchy Club, told us he had managed to get a question included on BBC Radio’s Round Britain Quiz about Edinburgh Fringe comedy awards, including a cryptic reference to the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards which no-one, including a professional comic on the team, managed to decode.
Malcolm used to listen to Round Britain Quiz in prison and dazzle his fellow prisoners with the number of questions he got right. They never twigged that he listened to the repeat transmission with them, but had already heard the first transmission alone.
In the evening, on the way to see the former Wibbley Wobbley squatters’ one-off performance of Malcolm Hardee – Back From The Drink, I met submariner comic Eric who said that he had received a “weird” message this morning about winning a Malcolm Hardee Award. He had dismissed it as fake because, as he has been very successfully performing his Tales From The Sea show here for the last ten years, it was unlikely he would suddenly win an award for Originality.
Which. alas, brings us to Malcolm Hardee – Back From The Drink.
Malcolm used to introduce new acts with: “Could be good; could be shit.”
Malcolm Hardee – Back From The Drink was previewed in New Cross last Friday. Someone who saw it emailed me:
Last night I saw a play called Malcolm Hardee – Back From The Drink… I think it was probably one of the worst I have ever seen on so many levels – Oh dear. I think it’s heading for Edinburgh. Definitely SHIT… with capitals. Only potential redeeming feature they tried to put the Balloon Dance in at the end. Two of them got naked with a balloon – I have seen car crash things before which are amusing because how shit they are. This is not one of those. One of the cast at the end tried to show some spirit of the balloon dance, got naked and then said “Sorry, no choreography” and then another cast member got naked so was stupid.
The problem with the new, improved version tonight was that it was incoherent.
Being a shambles is forgivable. Being incoherent is not.
After asking who in the audience had heard of Malcolm Hardee (it was about half-and-half), a lady appeared on stage who (I think) gave some background but in such a thick somewhere-in-Europe accent that I have no real idea what she said. And I knew the subject. What the less clued-up people in the audience made of it I can’t begin to imagine.
There were two funny things in the one hour duration.
A piece of wooden scenery fell over three times (unintentionally) and there was a giant silver fish about 18 inches long which a cast member attempted to put in his mouth (nothing to do with Malcolm).
The plot seemed to be confused about whether it centred on the police looking for Freddie Mercury’s stolen birthday cake or looking for Malcolm who had returned from his fake death or looking for multiple people pretending to be Malcolm.
Along the way, there were bizarre miscalculations like lighting a firework which was not stuck up a bum (what was the point?)… having an un-choreographed shambling around balloon dance with three naked men and a half-naked woman (why bother and why insert a woman wearing panties?)… and an admittedly funny gag involving a teabag (except it is actually a famous, allegedly-true, story about Tommy Cooper, totally unconnected to Malcolm).
There were also bizarre basic errors like saying Malcolm was aged 31 in 1985 (he was born in 1950) and that, when the police lifted his body out of the dock, he was holding a glass (it was a beer bottle, according to the police report at the Coroner’s Court).
A shambles might have been a fitting tribute.
Incoherence and pointlessness is not.
It was a disappointing evening.
When an irrelevant fish and falling scenery get the biggest laughs, you know you have problems.
And, on the way back to my flat, a cash machine swallowed my bank card.
Tell me about life.