Jeremy Hardy dies at 57 | 'A man who chose to use his comedy to change the world, rather than to fill stadia'

Jeremy Hardy dies at 57

'A man who chose to use his comedy to change the world, rather than to fill stadia'

Jeremy Hardy has died of cancer at the age of 57.

He died from  cancer in the early hours of this morning with his wife and daughter at his side.

A statement from his family said: ‘He retained to the end the principles that guided his life; trying to make the world more humane, and to be wonderfully funny.

‘He will be enormously missed by so many, who were inspired by him and who laughed with him.’

The news was also confirmed by Radio 4, who added: ‘We are desperately sad to announce that Jeremy Hardy, mainstay of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue and The News Quiz, and one of the funniest people around, has died of cancer aged 57. Our thoughts are with all who knew and loved him.’

Fellow comics have been quick to pay tribute to Hardy, best known for appearances on  panel shows including The News Quiz and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.

Clue’s chairman Jack Dee said: ‘Jeremy Hardy was ground-breakingly brilliant, off the register funny, compassionate and caring. So privileged to have counted him as a dear friend. My love goes out Katie and Betty and all his wonderful family. x’

And former News Quiz host Sandi Toksvig added: ‘Jeremy Hardy was a one off. Part genius, part naughty schoolboy. When he was doing one of his off-the-cuff political rants on The News Quiz there was no one to match him for his brilliant understanding of the event in question, his satire and his straight forward ability to make us sob with laughter. 

‘How many evenings he made the radio theatre rock with delight. Above all, Jeremy was a political activist who never wavered in his beliefs no matter what path the rest of society was taking. He was steadfast and true in his politics and in his friendships. 

‘He was my very dear friend. At my wedding he called out 'It should have been me!' Even my wife laughed. Personally and professionally, I am awash with grief. My heart goes out to his wife and family.’

Richard Osman said: ‘I was very lucky to work with Jeremy Hardy early in my career. Every day was a masterclass, a privilege. He was so naturally and brilliantly funny, and a man who chose to use his comedy to change the world, rather than to fill stadia. A very sad day. #RIPJeremy.'

Even Jeremy Corbyn tweeted his respects. Hardy had campaigned to get him elected Labour leader and took part in many fundraisers:

Outgoing Newsjack presenter Angela Barnes said: ‘Utterly heartbroken to have to say goodbye to Jeremy Hardy. He was so very kind and supportive of me, I’ve had so many laughs sat next to him on The News Quiz and even more in the pub afterwards. So much love and strength to his family. Night Jeremy, cheers for the laughs xxx’

Journalist Hugo Rifkind, a regular on the News Quiz, added: ‘Heartbroken at the loss of my dear friend Jeremy Hardy. Not merely one of the funniest men I've ever known, but one of the kindest, cleverest and most supportive, too. Sending my love to all who loved him, too.’

Another regular, Susan Calman, added: ‘I don't swear a lot on Twitter but fuck.  Fuck this.  I'm off to have a rant at the sky for my mentor and my mate.  He made The News Quiz. I'm devastated and sending love to his family. What a wonderful man.’

And Mark Steel said: ‘My dearest friend @JeremyJHardy left us early this morning. I was so lucky to have spent 35 years arseing about with him. Knowing him as I did, I know he wouldn't want you to be sad, he'd want you to be bloody devastated’

Comedy writer and former stand-up Dave Cohen said: ‘Jeremy Hardy was the first stand-up to arrive on the circuit fully formed. While the rest of us were floundering around in search of our voices, Jeremy was as funny on stage on day one as he was for the rest of his life.’

Hardy was born in Farnborough, Hampshire, and turned to writing and performing after failing to obtain a place on a journalism course after studying modern history and politics at the University of Southampton. 

He turning to stand-up at the time of the alternative comedy boom on London in the early 1980s, and won the Perrier Comedy Award at the i 1988 Edinburgh Fringe.

His success on Radio 4 led him to fulfil some of his journalistic ambitions, with regular columns for The Guardian  and the London Evening Standard's magazine.

Though he projected the image of being grumpy, but generally mild-mannered, Hardy combined his comedy with activism,

He made a documentary film, Jeremy Hardy vs. the Israeli Army, in 2003 about his experiences in Palestine during the Israeli army incursions, and has backed the Irish Republican movement.

In 2004, he suggested that members and supporters of the BNP should be ‘shot in the back of the head’ on his own Radio 4 show, causing his show in Burnley to be cancelled. 

Hardy was once married to fellow comedian Kit Hollerbach, they had an adopted daughter,  Elizabeth (Betty), and he leaves a wife, Katie Barlow.

In a 1998 episode of the News Quiz, Hardy contemplated his own funeral, saying: ‘I don't get this fashion for happy funerals.'

'This is a very fashionable idea, that when you die, it's supposed to be a celebration and joyous and everyone laughing, but I want people's lives torn apart when I go. I want to be embalmed and brought out when we have guests.’

Published: 1 Feb 2019

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