A Comedy Tribute That 'Could Be Good, Could Be Shit'

By Ben Venables Last edited 35 months ago
A Comedy Tribute That 'Could Be Good, Could Be Shit'

Malcolm Hardee. Photo by Vinny Lewis.

It's a decade since cult comedian Malcolm Hardee died, his body having been found in the Thames close to his houseboat in Rotherhithe.

In order to mark the anniversary and honour Hardee's contribution to the alternative comedy scene, there's an eclectic line-up of comedians performing at Up The Creek, the Greenwich club he opened in 1991. There'll be familiar names such as Phill Jupitus and also Hardee's former group The Greatest Show On Legs — whose famous naked balloon dance (exactly the thing it describes) shocked audiences when it was featured on Chris Tarrent's O.T.T. show back in 1982.

The event is organised by showman and promoter Adam Taffler, with ticket sales raising funds for All The Way From Over There, a documentary about Hardee's life.

Hardee was famous for his outrageous stunts. He once drove a tractor through the venue of a neighbouring show and he stole Freddie Mercury's 40th birthday cake. But he was also celebrated  for spotting new comedians — often introducing them on-stage by telling the audience that the rookie, "could be good, could be shit". He was however, a nurturer of talent and once described in The Word magazine as the 'John Peel' of comedy. It's fitting then that this anniversary show looks to the future.

Jayde Adams, winner of the Funny Woman award last year will be performing, as will Spencer Jones who came joint-second in the New Acts Of The Year Show as recently as this Sunday.

Then there's Candy Gigi, who also won an award for comic originality last year at the Edinburgh Fringe with one of the prizes that take the name of the man himself. John Fleming judges the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards each year and talking to Londonist, he said: "Malcolm had a taste for the bizarre in comedy. And Candy Gigi is a wonderful, bizarre one off speciality act with an innate passion for comedy. There is a carefully structured anarchy to her performance... but I always think you can spot a comedian by their eyes. There is a madness there, and Candy has that."

Hardee's time as MC at Up The Creek was a more straightforward club night than the notorious Tunnel Club, where hecklers were baited and encouraged to dismember the acts up on-stage. Fleming adds though that there was always an agreement for Hardee to stay away from boring and offer nights that might be described as "Britain's Got Mad Talent".

This show sounds like one of those nights.

For further reading about Hardee try John Fleming's blog or our article on the Tunnel Club.

10 Years On — The Malcolm Hardee Show takes place at on Monday, 2 February, 7.30. Tickets £10.

Last Updated 28 January 2015