Fringe Classics 4: Malcolm Hardee [1996]

This post previously appeared on crashposition.com in Aug 2007.

Oy Oy! Knob out!

Malcolm Hardee has been described as the father of UK alternative comedy, yet few people outside the circuit have ever heard of him. His actual talents are difficult to define. Stealing was one. Notable thefts included a huge cheese, a Tory MP’s Rolls Royce, the entire contents of Simon Munnery’s medicine cabinet and Freddie Mercury’s birthday cake. He also played harmonica; a skill taught to him by his neighbour Val Doonican. His most consistent talent though was getting naked and flashing the “biggest bollocks in show business“. He didn’t do much TV.

He made a great compère but not a great stand up. He was just Malcolm and that was funny. After achieving success with ‘The greatest show on legs’ he went on to found three London comedy clubs: The infamous ‘Tunnel Palladium’ near the Blackwall Tunnel, ‘Up the creek’ in Greenwich and the ‘Wibbly Wobbly’ in Rotherhithe. His biggest talent though (besides those enormous bollocks) was an incredible ability to spot new acts. As a manager he launched the careers of such brilliant left field talents as Simon Munnery, Vic & Bob, Charlie Chuck, Jerry Sadowitz and Madame Edith & her singing chickens.

In 1996 he published his autobiography, ‘I stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake‘ and it still remains one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Although Malcolm put a show on every year (usually entitled ‘AAAAAAAAAAAAArrrrrrgh’ so as to be first in the Fringe guide) that years show was all about the book.

Malcolm Hardee 1

Malcolm came on stage with the obligatory “Oy Oy” then said, “Alright, what do you want?” He was serious. Brilliant. In the end he told a few anecdotes, played the harmonica and signed copies of the book. Although I lived in Greenwich for a few years and saw Malcolm compère quite a few times, this is the only chance I ever got to meet him. If you’ve been following along with my previous posts then you can probably guess where this show took place. Yup. Yet another gem from the Pleasance Cabaret bar. That place should have a blue plaque.

Malcolm Hardee 2

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