Edinburgh Fringe

The Malcolm Hardee Awards

Malcolm Hardee. Copyright: Vincent Lewis

Malcolm Hardee (1950-2005) was a British comic, agent, manager, club owner and anarchic prankster.

The Malcolm Hardee Awards were initiated at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2005, the year of his death, to celebrate and promote the spirit of madcap, anything-goes comedy anarchy that he personified.


Founded by John Fleming - a long-time friend of Hardee - the awards originated with just one prize for "comic originality" (the name it now bears), and are all for comic performer(s) themselves rather than (and sometimes despite) their shows. The inaugural prize was awarded just under seven months after Hardee's untimely death. Fleming explains: "Basically, the judges have no idea what they are looking for. If we did know what we were looking for, we would be able to define it and it would not be original."

From 2009 the awards expanded to include the Cunning Stunt prize, recognising the most gutsy attention-seeking moves. The word "cunning" is key. Fleming said: "Riding an elephant painted pink down Princes Street and inviting the press to see it is a stunt, but it is not a cunning stunt."

The most recent addition is the Act Most Likely to Make a Million Quid title. Created in 2010, Fleming says: "The judges have to take a wild punt on who may survive the vagaries of - and triumph over the good and bad luck inherent in - a comedy career to attain seldom-attained financial success."

The awards initially ended in 2017 but, having been much missed the following year, British Comedy Guide took up Fleming's mantle as organiser of the awards from 2019, continuing to work in conjunction with Malcolm's family to remember his anarchic comic spirit.

The Malcolm Hardee Awards return for 2022. Judges Marissa Burgess, Kate Copstick, Bruce Dessau, Jay Richardson, Claire Smith and Ian Wolf will be scouting the festival looking for shows worthy of the awards. The winners will be revealed at a live show on Friday 26th August 2022.

If you want to ensure a show or Cunning Stunt is on the judges' radar, or have any other questions about the awards, contact British Comedy Guide.


List of winners

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