The Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show

Review by Bernard O'Leary | 26 Aug 2012

The big Perifosters comedy award is a bit like the FA Cup: once it was surrounded by romance and glamour, now it's a bit of a consolation prize for teams who don't make the Champions League (in this metaphor, the Champions League represents a regular spot on Mock The Week).

So hooray for these awards, founded in memory of a beloved headcase and handed out in a deliberately nuts ceremony. Tonight's two hour show is hosted by Miss Behave, whose own material includes doing odd things with her tongue piercing and headbutting a watermelon to death. We also get the wonderfully bitchy David Mills, the truly bizarre Baby Warhol and maybe the most alternative comedian on the planet, Charlie Chuck.

There are also some big setpieces, including Russian Egg Roulette which finally sees Lewis Schaffer win an award in Edinburgh, and two performances by The Greatest Show On Legs, with Bob Slayer filling in on the left. They perform the naked balloon dance wearing Prince Harry masks, who himself is to the aristocracy what Malcolm Hardee was to comedy.

The awards are distributed around the middle of the show by loved/feared journalist Kate Copstick. Unlike the other awards, there's no Best Show prize. Instead, they celebrate the things Hardee was best known for: Comic Originality (accepted by The Rubberbandits in all their plastic bag glory); Cunning Stunt (for most devious PR trick, won this year by the reviewer-baiting Stuart Goldsmith); and Act Most Likely To Make A Million Quid. The final award prompts one of the most hilariously anarchic moments, with Copstick giving a speech about how winner Trevor Noah couldn't be here tonight, while Noah fights through the crowd shouting "Yes I am!", only to arrive onstage and narrowly avoid being sexually assaulted by Copstick (to be fair, he is a very good looking chap and probably has this issue all the time).

"The Spirit Of The Fringe" is such an overused term that most people don't even think it ever really existed, but it's here tonight. The Malcolm Hardee Awards are the only gig of its type not to be polluted by lanyard-sporting industry people, air-kissing each other and looking for someone famous to talk to. Instead, these awards are a bunch of genuinely funny and creative people mucking about and having a laugh. What's more, it's open to the public who all seem to be passionate comedy fans, plus it's free - which is probably the only element that Hardee wouldn't have loved. Fun, passion, anarchy and a refusal to take oneself too seriously. This is what people come to Edinburgh for.

The Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show, 24 August, The Counting House, 23:00, Free