There are awards and there are awards and then there’s Malcolm Hardee. The late founder of the Tunnel Club left instructions that his iconoclastic Edinburgh Festival Fringe awards, set up as an antidote to all the posh, formal awards and particularly the Perrier comedy award, should continue after his death.
And they do, lovingly looked after by his acolytes who include Kate Copstick, feared but fearless comedy reviewer, Dominic Maxwell of The Times, Jay Richardson under the watchful eye of John Fleming, keeper of the Hardee flame.
So for Bo Burnham, the American teenager (he turned 20 during this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe) to find himself both winning the Malcolm Hardee award for the Act Most Likely to Make a Million Quid AND to be nominated for the Fosters (nee Perrier) award in his first visit is like winning and coming last all at the same time.
But win it he has, alongside comedy veteran Stewart Lee who won the Cunning Stunt award for best publicity. Usually this is a heavily ironic title.
In Lee’s case it was for his dyspeptic tirade at Nica Burns, the organiser of the Fosters awards, and various other comedy luminaries for daring to suggest there might be a champion of champions after 30 years of thePerrier/Fosters.
Deliberately or not, he got acres of coverage, just the sort of stunt Malcom Hardee would have liked – especially the element of doubt in its intent.
Lee obviously has issues with lists and awards; one recent show was titled Britain 42nd best comedian after he came in that position in another poll of comedians.
But the winner of the main Malcolm Hardee award, featured in our video, was Robert White, whose show about his Outrageously Peculiar Organ has been a big hit at the Gilded Balloon. He describes himself as the only gay Aspergers quarter-Welsh web-toed dyslexic pianist on the fringe and no-one is going to argue with that.