Search Shows

Malcolm Hardee tribute show

Malcolm Hardee tribute show

Show type: Misc live shows

This show has not yet got a description.



Original Review:

He may now be exposing his famously pendulous testicles in that great comedy club in the sky, but the anarchic spirit of Malcolm Hardee was very much in evidence at the benefit in his (or, more accurately, his many creditors’) honour last night.

The acts were eclectic and bizarre, the technical side shambolic, the hecklers sometimes feral, the jokes bad and the middle-aged men butt-naked, save for their fraying grey socks. Oh, and Johnny Vegas shouted aggressive nonsense at a befuddled audience. Yet when it worked, it worked brilliantly well, successfully bringing variety back to Hackney’s famous Empire music hall.

In this world of slick, corporate comedy and demographically targeted TV shows, this four-and-a-half hour epic was a throwback to a world of oddballs and freaks that existed long before Malcolm did, and deserves to go on even as his bottle-lens glasses erode on the bed of his beloved river. What Malcolm did was pioneer a revival in the celebration of the strange and the unexpected (with his usual introduction: ‘might be good, might be shit’) and the truest tribute the comedy world could pay him would be to continue that legacy.

But for now, another commemoration show – this one roughly coinciding with the first anniversary of him toppling, drunk, off that tiny, unstable boat in Greenland Dock. Many such tributes have already been paid: a brilliant night at his Up The Creek club in Greenwich, some less successful segments in the Glastonbury comedy tent, the Radio 4 documentary, the Edinburgh shows – and, to top them all, a unique funeral that can never be equalled. For a while, you couldn’t escape Hardee tribute nights, and Arthur Smith, who compered last night’s first section, was in danger of becoming a professional mourner for his much-loved friend.

But this was the biggest, with a bill that combined those who were proud to say they knew Malcolm well, all armed with their near-endless supply of anecdotes, performing alongside those acts of whom he would surely have approved.

Closest to his ethos were, perhaps, Brian Damage and Krysstal, hosts of the second section and proprietors of ‘London’s second worst comedy club’ Pear-Shaped, which also celebrates the deranged and the hopeless on the fringes of the fringe. Though grumpy, chaotic and a touch sleazy, Damage cheerily celebrates his limitations as Malcolm himself did.

Similarly in that anything-goes spirit, The Bastard Son Of Tommy Cooper performed cheap conjuring tricks in a Fez, trunks and nipple tassles; Phil Zimmerman clucked like a chicken, Frank Sanazi crooned lounge numbers as Adolf Hitler might have sung them, Charlie Chuck was, well, Charlie Chuck and, of course, there was the naked balloon dance of The Greatest Show On Legs.

Musically, Alessandro, the Menace From Venice, sang a booming Nessun Dorma; Jools Holland played piano; his ex-Squeeze associate Glenn Tilbrook played first unplugged, strolling around the auditorium when the amplification failed, then Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile with his guitar behind his head; John Hegley set his poems to the musical accompaniment of The Popticians and Andrew Bailey, a rubber glove on his head and a plastic tube in his mouth; and Clare Hardee’s wild-spirited Can’t Can’t girls brought welcome a blast of energy – and a rapturous ovation - towards the end.

Then there were those friends of Malcolm who have made a more conventional career in stand-up. Ricky Grover, whose performance triumphed over modest material to dominate the theatre; Jeremy Hardy who reminisced about Hardee’s unforgiving Tunnel club and expertly recycled some of Malcolm’s greatest hits; fellow Tunnel club survivor Jim Tavare, the perennial victim of the weekly ‘Get Jim Tavare Off In Under 30 Seconds’ competition, who added to the bad joke count; and a shaven-headed Boothby Graffoe who compered the third section with recollections of Hardee urinating in the foyer of the Manchester Comedy Store, among other tales.

Not everyone quite so well: Johnny Sorrow, with his weak delivery and weaker jokes lasted little over a minute before the calls went up for ‘Malcolm’ to rise from the grave and remove this offending act from the stage as he had done so often in life; German comic Henning Wehn, a relative newcomer, went down well when sticking to the exaggerated national stereotype of efficiency and National Socialism, but often baffled the audience too; even Tunnel Club veteran Hattie Hayridge, struggled to connect with her low-key, nervous deadpannery, as did Simon Day with his long-winded Tommy Cockles music hall reminiscences.

The most aggressively hostile reception, though, was reserved for Jimmy Carr, who braved a barrage of boos and hisses as he took to the stage. Nobody, in Malcolm’s world, likes a smart-arse, although this particular one won around the majority with a typically well-crafted joke about rape (‘and that doesn’t reflect well on you,’ he admonished). Although he gave as good as he got when it came to heckles – some with the devastating panache of the Tunnel Club’s mob, but rather more that were just thuggish abuse – the end result was probably a no-score-draw.

The list goes on: Stewart Lee performed his languorous, repetitive and still-funny ‘The answer is Jesus, now what is the question?’ routine he first rendered for Malcolm 16 years ago while brassy Janey Godley stoked the stereotype of tough Glaswegians, though to better effect in genuine anecdotes than in her shoutier, swearier, attention-grabbing one-liners.

Of all the bizarre moments, though, Vegas’s was the strangest. Intimidating, disturbing and combative, his impassioned rants have long left behind any conventions of comedy to become disconcerting snapshots of a breakdown you can only hope is fictional. He ranted despairingly about how he was again down on his luck, reduced to a pathetic bed-soiling loser fighting for access to his child. The uncomfortable picture he paints is of an emotional car-crash falling apart on stage, oblivious to any heckle, however mean-spirited, as he’s already at the lowest point a man can get.

He tried to get everyone to stand for a rendition of Jerusalem, with all the grace of a tramp shouting at the pigeons. When few did, even after evoking Hardee’s name to shame people into participating, a member of the audience came on stage and took temporary command. Not that Johnny would easily relinquish the spotlight. As he overran desperately, interventions from Graffoe and one of the Can’t Can’t dancers failed to remove him from the stage – only The Greatest Show On Legs coming on during the rant finally succeeded.

Vegas provokes a genuine reaction: whether it be pity, disgust or fear for a man whose emotional collapse you have to watch through your fingers. Laughter doesn’t feature on his list priorities, which makes for a very odd addition for a bill celebrating a man known for his joie de vivre, even if it was a particularly unique one.

While Hardee’s credo was ‘fuck it, let’s have a laugh’, Vegas’s nihilism shows itself in bleak despair – and that’s very awkward to watch on a variety bill. Still, even if it was for all the wrong reasons, Vegas’s set was the most unforgettable performance of the night, which is quite an achievement following a bill of can-can dancers, neon light-swallowing, two Nazi tribute acts and male full-frontal nudity. Oy! Oy!

Steve Bennett

February 2006


Show Dates



This comic also appears in:

Arthur Smith's Swan Lake

Best Of Hackney Empire New Comedy

Boothby Graffoe & Antonio Forcione: Wot Italia

How To Write An Opera About Jerry Springer

Janey Godley Is Innocent

Jimmy Carr Off The Telly

Stand Up For Freedom

Stewart Lee: 90s Comedian

The Road To Boothby Graffoe

All-Star Stand Up Tour 2017

Arthur Smith At Your Service

Arthur Smith Exposed

An Audience With Arthur Smith

Boothby Graffoe: Is This Your Vehicle Sir?

Boothby Graffoe: Nomad. No Sane Either...

Boothby Graffoe: Scratch

Double Header Tour

Einen Eveningen Mit Das Henning Wehn

Henning Wehn: Westphalia Is Not An Option

Jimmy Carr: Funny Business

Jimmy Carr: The Best of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits Tour

The Return Of Boothby Graffoe

Rory Bremner And Friends

Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle

Arthur Smith: That Which Is Not Said

Boothby Graffoe & Antonio Forcione: The Boys Are Back In Town

Boothby Graffoe: Release U Win Tin

Henning Wehn: Four World Cups And One World Pope

Janey Godley & Ashley Storrie's Square Street

Janey Godley's Blog - Live!

Janey Godley's The Point Of Yes

Jim Tavaré: A History of Violins

Jimmy Carr: Gag Reflex

Stand Up For Freedom

Boothby Graffoe & Antonio Forcione

Boothby Graffoe And The Following People

Janey Godley: Good Godley!

Jimmy Carr: Public Display of Affection


Stand Up For Freedom

Stewart Lee


Boothby Graffoe

Caught In The Act Of Being Myself

Jimmy Carr: Charm Offensive

Point of Yes

Stand Up For Freedom

Best Of The Fest

Boothby Graffoe Is All On His Own

Charlie Chuck Is Scrooge

Janey Godley: Full Measure Of Scotch

Jimmy Carr's Bare Faced Ambition Perrier nominee

Ricky Grover: Who's The Guv'nor

Stand Up For Freedom

Stand Up For Freedom

Stewart Lee: Pea Green Boat

The Stonewall Gala

Being Johnny Vegas

Boothby Graffoe: Midnight


Stand Up For Freedom

Stewart Lee's Badly Mapped World

The Boothby Graffoe Show

A Seriously Funny Attempt To Get The SFO in The Dock

At Last! The 1981 Show

Barry Cryer And His Imaginary Friends

Comedy Store's 30th Anniversary Charity Gala

David Cross & Friends

Funny Women Gala 2006

Ha Ha Hammersmith II


Laughing Horse New Act Final 2004

Leicester Comedy Festival 2003 preview show

Malcolm Hardee Charity Cabaret 2007

Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People

Stewart Lee: What Would Judas Do?


Teenage Cancer Trust Benefit 2007

Ten Best Stand-ups In The World Ever. Gig 1

Big Fat Gypsy Gangster


And Another Thing...

Jerry Springer The Opera, Cambridge Theatre

Jerry Springer: The Opera, National Theatre

Arthur Smith: ARTURART

Beginners Guide To German Humour

Comedy Gala 2007

Hattie Hayridge

Janey Godley: Tell It Like It Is

Janey Godley's Chat Show

Jimmy Carr: Repeat Offender

Johnson and Boswell: Late But Live

Stewart Lee: 41st Best Stand-Up Ever

Wilty and Wehn

Howie Mandel Gala

Arthur Smith's Public Lecture: 'The Toilet Role of Arturart in the History of Western Representation'

Janey Godley: Domestic Godley

Jimmy Carr: Joke Technician

Stewart Lee: Scrambled Egg

Thousand Years of German Humour

Britcom 2006

Aaaaaaaaaarrghh! It's Bollock Relief

Abracadabra: German Humour Goes Global

Arthur Smith: Edinburgh Book Festival

Charlie Chuck, Uncle Peter and Me

Janey Godley: Godley's World

Jimmy Carr: Rapier Wit

Stewart Lee: If You Prefer A Milder Comedian Please Ask For One

Britcom gala 2009

The Nasty Show [Montreal 2009]

Aaaaaaaargh! Malcolm Hardee Documentary Preview

Arthur Smith In A Cobbled Up Shambels

Arthur Smith's Edinburgh Bash

Henning Wehn: My Struggle

Janey Godley: The Godley Hour

Jimmy Carr: Laughter Therapy

Stewart Lee: Silver Stewbilee

Stewart Lee: Vegetable Stew

Tall Storrie & Wee Godley

Arthur Smith's Pissed-Up Chat Show

Charlie Chuck's Laughter Lounge

Henning WehnOtto Kuhlne: Das Very Best Of German Humour

Henning Wehn: No Surrender

Itch: A Scratch Event [2011]

Stewart Lee: Flickwerk 2011. Work In Progress

George Ryegold's God-In-A-Bag

Henning Wehn: Henning Knows Bestest

Heroes of Alternative Fringe

Jimmy Carr: Gagging Order

Jimmy Carr: Gagging Order [Edinburgh 2012]

Stewart Lee: Carpet Remnant World

This Arthur's Seat Gala Belongs To Lionel Richie

Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen Volume Too

Charlie Chuck's Grande Night Out

Henning Wehn's Authentic German Christmas Do

Janey Godley Is Ungagged

Stewart Lee: Much A-Stew About Nothing

Aaaaaaaaaaaaarrghhh! It's the Increasingly Prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show - and It's Free!

Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen (Vol. 2)

Henning Wehn: Eins, Zwei, DIY

Jimmy Carr – Funny Business

Oh My Godley!

Stewart Lee: A Room With a Stew

Aaaaaaaaaaaaarrghhh! It’s the Increasingly Prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show – and It’s Free!

Henning Wehn: Eins, Zwei, DIY!

Honest to Godley!

Stewart Lee: A Room With a Stew

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrghhh! It’s the Increasingly Prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show – and It’s Free!

An Act of Godley: Janey Godley

Arthur Smith – Mindlessness: A Beginner's Guide

Henning Wehn: Westphalia is Not an Option

Stewart Lee: Content Provider

Henning Wehn: Westphalia is Not an Option

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.