5th January 1950 - 31st January 2005
STYLE EXTRA online
Top comedians at Malcolm Hardee's funeral
comedians, including Johnny Vegas, Vic Reeves and David Baddiel, joined
family and friends to pour out heartfelt tributes to legendary funny
man Malcolm Hardee at his wake in a Greenwich pub today. The stars,
including his former girlfriend Jo Brand, were among 300 people a
the riverside Trafalgar pub after Hardee's funeral at St Alfege's
Church in Greenwich this morning.
Vegas said: "Everything that people say about the lifestyles
of those in the spotlight - he did it. He was the maverick we all
wanted to be." And echoing one of Hardee's catchphrases Vegas
added: "Fuck it."
Baddiel said: "He was a great bloke and very sweet in his own
way. He was quite domestic - he smoked the pipe and did The Times
crossword. "The funeral was a fantastic event - he was the first
of his generation of comedians to die, which, considering how this
generation lives, is quite amazing. The funeral was anarchic with
a lot of swearing but in quite a sacred way. It was funny but at the
same time moving and there was a sense of the comic community mourning
in the way that it should. Malcolm didn't really help me - I performed
at The Tunnel three times and each time the microphone didn't work.
But he was extremely nice to me."
died with £500 in his pocket when his boat capsized during the
short journey from his floating pub, the Wibbley Wobbley, to his houseboat.
the funeral Hardee's coffin was driven to Hither Green crematorium
in a hearse decorated with flowers spelling out the words 'knob out'
- referring to his habit of whipping out his genitalia on stage.
Jerry Sadowitz said: "As the coffin went down the song Hallelujah
as sung by Jeff Buckley was playing and at the end came Malcolm's
trademark 'oy, oy'. It brought a tear to the eye. It was just like
him and we won't see his like again."
and writer Arthur Smith said: "Every time you saw him some extraordinary
16 year-old daughter Poppy said: "It was really embarrassing
always seeing him naked and in the coffin was about the first time
I saw him with clothes on. It did scar you for life seeing your father's
genitalia at Christmas dinner. If he was here today he would be the
drunkest one of all."
friend Deke, who DJed for him at his Up The Creek Comedy Club and
who called police and identified his body when it was fished out of
the Thames, said: "I rang the police and got the divers in and
I am only now beginning to be able to find it funny. They found him
after an hour and a half and I identified him and zipped him up. He
had won £500 on a roulette machine at the bookies. "We
did the normal daytime stuff together."
Dave Thompson, who is touring with fellow comedian Harry Hill, said:
"He was a anti-guru. They say a guru takes you from dark to light.
Malcolm would take you from light to dark and borrow a fiver from
you along the way but ultimately he was a very moral person and he
had the biggest bollocks in showbusiness. He used to say they didn't
so much drop as abseil down. He broke every rule."
At about 4.30pm, family and guests gathered outside the pub to hurl flowers into the river Thames to loud cheers.
at Which the Mourners' Tears Were Caused by Laughter
can there have been so much laughter and irreverence at a funeral
service and rarely can it have been more appropriate. The great and
the good of British comedy were among hundreds of mourners who gathered
yesterday to pay their respects to Malcolm Hardee, one of the founding
fathers of the alternative stand-up scene.
comedian, who promoted and ran a succession of stand-up venues, drowned
earlier this month on the way home from the floating pub he owned,
the Wibbley Wobbley, in south London. It is believed the 55-year-old,
who helped launch a generation of comedians including JO Brand, Vic
Reeves Keith Allen, Jenny Eclair and Paul Merton, fell overboard from
the small launch he used to cross the Thames to his houseboat in Rotherhithe.
his friends and family were lining up to be as irreverent and rude
as possible about the man they said had never lived a dull moment
and was a complete original. "That is the way he would've wanted
it," said one.
son Frank, 19, a student at Oxford University, said that when he had
written an essay as a schoolboy about his home life, his teacher refused
to believe he had not made it up. "My father's life was like
a crazy mixed up episode of EastEnders," he said.
Smith, the broadcaster and long-time friend of Mr Hardee, added: "Everything
about him was original apart from his stand-up act."
further tributes from JO Brand, the musician Jools Holland and a man
known only as Alessandro, who sang Nessan Dorma, while wearing a blonde
wig and playing a toy guitar, the coffin, which had a lifeboat ring
on top, was carried out of the church to Elvis's Return to Sender,
a song Mr Hardee had chosen himself for the purpose.
was followed by a short private ceremony at Hither Green crematorium
with the coffin disappearing to Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley, who the
order of service pointed out had "also drowned in tragic circumstances".
Finally the congregation moved en masse to the Trafalgar Tavern, next
to the Thames at Greenwich, for a wake due to last until closing time.
It was a favourite pub of Mr Hardee, whose father had been a tug boat
the service, Vic Reeves said: "He lived his life for comedy.
He was such a hedonist and everyone has their Malcolm story.
Baddiel, the writer and comedian, said: "He was a great bloke
and incredibly entertaining. He was one of the first of that generation
to die and considering how they live that is quite an achievement.
The funeral was a fantastic event. Very anarchic, very irreverent,
and above all very, very funny and moving."
added: "Every time you met him, something extraordinary happened.
I was speaking to someone today. She told me how they once broke into
a zoo together, shook hands with a gorilla and then went for a pint.
In many ways he was a shyster who ripped you off. He still owes me
a couple of grand. Once when I said he could stay at my place, he
went home early, smashed the window and I found him asleep in my bed.
Somehow he always got away with it. He was a great man."
"He has two wonderful children Frank and Poppy. Frank doesn't drink and doesn't smoke and is at Oxford. Malcolm once joked, Where did I go wrong?"
Funny - Comic Mal's Wacky Send-Off
A madcap funnyman was yesterday given a wacky send off by top comics - who joked about how he died. Cult comedian Malcolm Hardee drowned after falling off his dinghy as he paddled from his floating pub to his houseboat moored just a few yards away.
Instead of a wreath on his coffin, pals placed a lifebelt and an L-plate. in church, the congregation leapt to their feet and applauded as if he was taking to the stage one last time. they included comics Vic reeves, Harry Hill, Johnny Vegas, Phill Jupitus, David Baddiel, Jerry Sadowitz and Keith Allen.
Jools Holland played the piano during the service, while Hardee's ex-girlfriend JO Brand joked "he still owes me £500".
Elvis's Return to Sender blared out as the coffin was carried out of St Alfege's Church, Greenwich, South East London. It was then driven away in a hearse which bore a wreath which said "knobout" - a reference to his habit of exposing himself to strangers. Later 300 mourners enjoyed a wake at the trafalgar pub. some tossed wreaths into the Thames near where he drowned aged 55.
David Baddiel said: "the funeral was a fantastic event, anarchic with lots of swearing. It was funny but at the same time moving. He was the first of his generation of comedians to die which, considering how this generation lives, is quite amazing."
Broadcaster Arthur Smith added: "in many ways he was a shyster but he had an extraordinary ability to pull women, given his scant regard for personal hygiene."
Hardee ran comedy clubs and helped launch many careers.
Hardee's daughter Poppy, 16, said: "It was really embarrassing always seeing him naked and in the coffin was about the first time I saw him with clothes on. It did scar you for life seeing your father's genitalia at Christmas dinner. If he was here today, he would be the drunkest of all."
Fun-eral of comic
It is believed
Mr Hardee drowned when he fell from a dinghy crossing Deptford Creek
from his floating pub, the Wibbley Wobbley, to his houseboat on the
opposite bank. Mr Hardee's trademark sailor's hat lay on top of his
coffin, together with a lifejacket, and an L plate, as pall bearers
walked it slowly into St Alfege's Church in Greenwich where his funeral
service took place.
musician and close friend of Hardee, Jools Holland, played the hymn
Precious Lord Take My Hand before friends and family gave readings.
Mr Hardee's grown-up son Frank read a story he had written about his
father while at school, describing life with his comic dad like a
"crazy, mixed up episode of EastEnders." His daughter Poppy
had written an ode to her father which was printed in the order of
Arthur Smith told those gathered: "Everything about Malcolm's
life was original - apart from his stand-up material!
Mr Hardee's coffin
was later taken to Hither Green Crematorium where his body was cremated.
Frank Sinatra's That's Life was played as his coffin entered the building,
followed by Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley.
Mr Hardee, who
died aged 55, is credited with launching the career of many of today's
best known comedians including Vic Reeves, Paul Merton and Harry Enfield.
Scores of popular comics began their careers at Mr Hardee's infamous
Tunnel Club in Rotherhithe, and his later venture, Up the Creek in
Greenwich. Comedian Vic Reeves paid tribute to Hardee.
He said: "He
gave us a lot of help when we started out at the Tunnel Club. He would
put me on then clear off, leaving me to deal with the crowd."
Comic Bill Bailey said: "It was the best funeral I have ever been to. It was amazing... funny and touching. The vicar had to raise his game with a church full of comedians."
Leaves 'em Laughing
The cream of British comedy paid their last respects to legendary funnyman Malcolm Hardee yesterday. Vic Reeves, Johnny Vegas, Harry Hill and JO Brand were among the star line-up at his funeral in Greenwich, London.
And Malcolm, 55, who drowned after falling into a dock on the Thames from his dinghy, had the last laugh. His coffin was decorated with a lifebuoy and an L-plate.
Malcolm helped launch the careers of many top comics at his comedy club Up The Creek. TV star Paul Merton said: "Malcolm was brilliant."
He was also known for his off-stage antics, including stealing Freddie Mercury's birthday cake.
final send-off was completed last night with a gig at the club he
founded ending with a stage full of dancing naked men, including
one with a firework up his backside. The tribute show at Greenwichs
Up The Creek was a fitting celebration of the unique ethos Hardee
brought to comedy featuring a mix of top comedians, unfortunate
open spots ready to be sacrificed to the raucous hecklers, bizarre
cabaret turns, and a drunk Shakespearean actress who slurred a toast
to the comic. Among the better-known names were Arthur Smith
one of those who did end up naked Jools Holland, Jimmy Carr,
Jeremy Hardy, John Hegley and the human firework-holder, Chris Lynam.
tales of their strange encounters with Hardee, who died earlier this
month at the age of 55, when he fell from a dinghy crossing Greenland
Dock from his floating pub, the Wibbley Wobbley, to his houseboat
on the opposite bank.
Among the lesser-known
memories of Malcolm's debauchery were:
recounting the time they won a Fortnum & Masons hamper in
a pub quiz and, after relieving it of its alcohol, passed caviar and
other delicacies to the tramps of Greenwich
telling of being asked to perform a gig in a Norfolk field for Malcolm,
only find himself bizarrely bumped off the bill in favour of John
remembering the night they imposed themselves on a bloke Malcolm had
met only once before and convincing him to let them stay the night
and then taking a dump on the suede shoes of his disapproving
telling of Malcolm stealing the contents of his bathroom and
emptying a bottle of perfume over his coat.
The gig was held
to raise money for Hardees funeral, which took place on Thursday
at St Alfege's Church in Greenwich and attended by the likes
of Johnny Vegas, Harry Hill, JO Brand and Jenny Éclair
as well as most of the performers on Sunday nights bill. Among
them was a Venetian opera singer known as Alessandro, who used to
perform naked with Malcolm. For the service, he was more appropriately
but not for the tribute gig.
One mourner at
the funeral, which started with a rousing cheer as the coffin entered
the church, said: Iwould have paid good money to see that.
During the service
Arthur Smith joked: "Everything about him was original - apart
from his stand-up act"; Owen O'Neill and JO Brand read poems
they had written, and Jools Holland played piano.
19-year-old son Frank, an Oxford student, said life with his dad was
like a "crazy, mixed up episode of EastEnders." While his
daughter Poppy, 16, added: "It was really embarrassing always
seeing him naked and in the coffin was about the first time I saw
him with clothes on. It did scar you for life seeing your father's
genitalia at Christmas dinner."
After the service
the wreaths were thrown into the Thames including one saying
Knob out in yellow flowers, and another, from Ricky Grover,
with the words Fuck It in red floral writing on a white
Vic Reeves later
told the Daily Telegraph: "He lived his life for comedy. He was
such a hedonist and everyone has their Malcolm story . He gave us
a lot of help when we started out at the Tunnel Club. He would put
me on then clear off, leaving me to deal with the crowd."
And Bill Bailey
told the South London Press: "It was the best funeral I have
ever been to. It was amazing... funny and touching. The vicar had
to raise his game with a church full of comedians."
The funeral service
was arranged by Malcolm's brother Alex who is the Scissor Sisters'
agent - with help from Arthur Smith and Martin Soan, Malcolms
friend from The Greatest Show On Legs.
After last night's farewell, a bigger West End tribute is now being planned.
To a Comedy Genius
A Dales band played
a prominent role in the funeral of comedy legend Malcolm Hardee last
Thursday. Matlock Bath group Please Y'Self attended the celebrity
event in London and later found themselves on stage with comedian
Johnny Vegas performing Mr Hardee's theme song That's Life.
Mr Hardee, dubbed
the Godfather of Alternative Comedy, made many friends across the
Dales during his career as he packed out venues in the Matlock area.
Fishpond boss John Gill, who formed Please Y'Self 33 years ago, said: "Malcolm's funeral was the most unbelievable event I have ever been to and it was a privilege to be involved. I have been friends with Malcolm for 30 years and he was an absolutely fantastic and amusing guy. We performed his theme song after the funeral, which we had also performed with Malcolm at his birthday party in London a few weeks earlier.
of JO Brand, Vic Reeves, David Baddiel and many others were there
last week. All the galleries were full and people were having to stand
everywhere. Although it was obviously a sad occasion, the people who
attended made sure it was hilarious at the same time. There were some
Mr Hardee, who
died aged 55, was arguably the greatest influence on British comedy
during the last 25 years. Many new comedians were managed or promoted
Mr Gill added:
"My sister first met him in Cornwall in 1978 when he was doing
an adult Punch and Judy show.
Mr Hardee is believed to have fallen into the Thames while making his way back from the Wibbley Wobbley boat pub he ran, to his houseboat moored nearby.
Tribute Gig Keeps
It Nude, Rude and Crude
AS Return To
Sender blasted out over Up the Creek's sound system, seven men
danced naked onstage.
It was a fitting
tribute to the life and crimes of the often naked comic-legend Malcolm
Hardee. As old friend and compere Arthur Smith put it earlier in the
Sunday night show: "Short of not being dead, it's what he would
Before the nude
finale, the faithful audience at the Greenwich comedy club had been
treated to some of the top names on the London stand-up circuit -
all of whom had played one of the club's Malcolm ran and survived
their notoriously unforgiving crowds.
Jimmy Carr, Jeremy
Hardy, John Hegley and dozens of others told jokes and shared memories
of the man.
Holland provided a musical interlude, playing a blues number which
he claimed Malcolm had written.
During one of
the intervals a video showed a young Malcolm trying to borrow money
from Otis Redding. Behind the acts was a large mural showing Malcolm
next to a pirate flag. His eyes followed you round the room and tried
to follow you into the toilets. Only one of Hardee's catch-phrases
can be repeated in a family newspaper but the crowd yelled "Oy
Oy" as loudly as any of his others.
After his funeral on Thursday, this tribute night showed the lasting impact Hardee had on comedy, in the venue and spirit he created.
Quite a Caricature
- Hardee Cartoon Stolen at Wake
Who would have thought it? A thief at Malcolm Hardees wake.
Although the comic
was an infamous rogue, who served time in jail and always lived on
borrowed money and clothes, a memento went missing after his
funeral. Hardees sister Clare is now appealing for the return
of the caricature of Malcolm shaving. She bid £500 for the cartoon
at the auction of his belongings after the funeral in the Trafalgar
Tavern, Greenwich, which raised money for Malcolm's children, Poppy
Now she has launched
an appeal through the local paper, the Bexley Mercury, for whoever
swiped it to return it.
Harry Hill and JO Brand were among the scores of comics and hundreds
of friends and family at Hardees funeral at St Alfege Church
on February 17.
For older newspaper articles, see OBITUARIES
For a report on the Inquest, CLICK HERE