|Born||5 January 1950|
Lewisham, London, England
|Died||31 January 2005 55) (aged|
Rotherhithe, London, England
|Genres||Physical comedy, Surreal humour|
|Notable works and roles||Autobiography: I Stole Freddie Mercury's Birthday Cake, The Greatest Show on Legs.|
His high reputation among his peers rests on his outrageous publicity stunts and on the help and advice he gave to successful British alternative comedians early in their careers, acting as "godfather to a generation of comic talent in the 1980s". Fellow comic Rob Newman called him "a hilarious, anarchic, living legend; a millennial Falstaff", while Stewart Lee wrote that "Malcolm Hardee is a natural clown who in any decent country would be a national institution" and Arthur Smith described him as "a South London Rabelais" and claimed that "everything about Malcolm, apart from his stand-up act, was original".
Though an accomplished comic, Hardee was arguably more highly regarded as a "character", a compère and talent-spotting booker at his own clubs, particularly The Tunnel Club in Greenwich, South East London, which gave vital and early exposure to up-and-coming comedians during the early years of British alternative comedy. In its obituary, The Times opined that "throughout his life he maintained a fearlessness and an indifference to consequences" and one journalist claimed: "To say that he has no shame is to drastically exaggerate the amount of shame that he has". In a publicity quote printed in Hardee's autobiography I Stole Freddie Mercury's Birthday Cake, Arthur Smith wrote that Hardee had "led his life as though for the perfect autobiography and now he has paid himself the compliment of writing it."