I was deeply honoured on Monday to be a part of the special, and ridiculous, memorial comedy show to mark the 10 year anniversary of the death of Malcolm Hardee, the "godather of alternative comedy." I'll be honest, I didn't know who he was and was alarmed to learn on the night that alternative comedy isn't something that the Weirdos came up with four years ago, but hey, it was cool to learn something.
My performance involved an impression of Malcolm Hardee, if he had been an Australian lobster who didn't know any of his own catchphrases, and culminated with me singing "My Way" while 200 people shouted at me to get off and threw beer cans. I felt tremendously pleased with it, and thought it was a nice tribute to an enormously influential figure and was the kind of thing he'd have enjoyed. It was also a performance subsequently described as "woeful" by the Londonist, "desperate" by John Fleming and "suicide" by Chortle. Ho hum. I'm not about to try and defend it as a particularly good performance, not when other acts on the bill like Spencer Jones and Hardee's old chum Martin Soan absolutely stormed it as much as they did, but I felt it played up to the spirit of what Hardee stood for, admitted to its own failure and gave the audience exactly what they wanted. It's a little ironic, and a little dispiriting, that a night commemorating a man who encouraged innovation, experimentation and self-expression above all else, even if that meant anarchy, is reviewed in a way that still adheres to conventional ideas about who did "well" and who did "badly." Not that I'm claiming my performance wasn't a disaster in the traditional sense, they're all right on the money in pointing that out, but I felt it was appropriate if nothing else. (To be honest, the Chortle review is very fair and conveys the vibe of the night very well, and John Fleming has subsequently told me he thought it was the best I've ever been, so I can't get too uppity about it). Hey ho. I was honoured to be a memorable part of such a significant event.
Here's John Fleming's blog post about the event, including a discussion we had about my "desperate" attempts to win an increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award (yeah, I twisted his words in the last paragraph to make it sound like my performance has been more critically reviled than it was. There's nothing I like better than a bit of indulgent sensationalism). And below is a picture of the various wonderful acts who made the night such a glorious success. Here's to next year's!