Stupid stunts! | Comic willingly gets a black eye as a PR gimmick

Stupid stunts!

Comic willingly gets a black eye as a PR gimmick

Even by the standard of Edinburgh publicity stunts, it’s pretty extreme. Comedian Gareth Ellis deliberately sustained a black eye – then told the media he had been randomly attacked in the street.

The comic claimed he had been the victim of an unprovoked late-night assault after reviewers slated his double act Ellis and Rose for their appearances in Jimmy Savile: The Punch & Judy Show.

He claimed a big, drunk Scottish man had attacked him in the street around 3am, saying: ‘You’re sick! You’re sick in the head! You do that Jimmy Savile show, don’t you? You’re sick!’ They said the man hadn’t seen the show, which they had not been linked to until one-star reviews started appearing.

But now Ellis has revealed that his double-act partner Richard Rose inflicted the wound by punching him hard four times in the face, after a previous attempt to injure himself with the blunt end of milk frother failed.

The pair have now released footage of Rose punching Ellis – see below.

Rose sad: ‘Basically we received a lot of bad reviews for our Jimmy Savile show. One reviewer called it a steaming pile of horse shit; and another called it an insult.

‘We requested not to be named on any of the reviews, but they named us. We decided to turn that around. We gave them what they wanted, and lynched him.’

‘We did it to give critics exactly what they wanted and to increase figures for our show and it worked.

‘He never got punched in the face. Actually he did, but by me. We were both hammered.’

The story that it had been a street attack was carried by The Scotsman and the Edinburgh Evening News, after first being reported as fact on John Fleming’s comedy blog.

At the time they specifically blamed the one-star review written by Chortle editor Steve Bennett for naming them, with Rose saying: ‘Maybe we should sue Steve Bennett ofChortle... This wasn’t happening before that Chortle review came out

Ellis added: ‘Maybe Steve Bennett actually is culpable.’

After the hoax was revealed, Bennett said: ‘I felt pretty awful when I first thought something I’d written might have ended in someone being physically attacked. No performer deserves that.

‘After a while something didn’t quite add up: that someone would read a review on a website for comedy fans, go to the trouble of finding out what the performers looked like, then happen upon them in the street – but that’s not the sort of doubt you can really express.

‘But I would never have thought that they would have gone to such lengths to deliberately hurt themselves just to get into the paper. I suppose it’s apt, though, the appalling Jimmy Savile show is pretty much a self-inflicted wound on their own comedy career.’

Sadly, the duo did not even get nominated for the Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt award for the biggest PR gimmick of the festival. Instead the organisers, headed by Fleming, have given them a special ‘pound of flesh’ award, in lieu of the usual ‘act most likely to make a million quid’ award, for which no one was considered worthy.

Shortlisted for the Cunning Stunt award are:

Barry Ferns – for printing 2,000 fake Broadway Baby and Three Weeks review sheets and distributing them round Edinburgh. They gave his own show a 6-star review.

Richard Herring – for deciding that expensive Fringe posters are pointless and, instead, giving members of his current show’s audience free DVDs of his past performances.

Lewis Schaffer – for also distributing ‘free’ Richard Herring DVDs, although you do have to ‘donate’ £5 to get one.

Gareth Morinan – for listing his show 11 times in the Fringe Programme because this gave him more space (and was cheaper) than buying a quarter page ad in the official Fringe programme.

Also notable by his absence is Shawn Hitchens, who organised a ‘ginger pride’ march through the streets of Edinburgh, attracting worldwide headlines from the BBC, CNN, the Daily Mirror, the Bangkok Post,, the Daily Mail, the Irish Independent, the Times Of Malta, and French outlet 7sur7 among others.

Shortlisted for the Malcolm Hardee Award for comic originality are Red Bastard, harp-playing comic Ursula Burns – who is not even officially registered to be in the Fringe – and Adrienne Truscott.

Winners will be announced at midnight on Friday.

Here is the Rose and Ellis video:

Published: 20 Aug 2013

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