5th January 1950 - 31st January 2005

Malcolm's funeral took place
Thursday 17th February 2005
at St Alfege's, Greenwich

with his wake at the
Trafalgar Tavern, Park Row,
Greenwich, London SE10


17th February 2005

Top comedians at Malcolm Hardee's funeral

Top 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.

Johnny 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."

David 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."

Hardee died with £500 in his pocket when his boat capsized during the short journey from his floating pub, the Wibbley Wobbley, to his houseboat.

After 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.

Comedian 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."

Broadcaster and writer Arthur Smith said: "Every time you saw him some extraordinary happened.
"In many ways he was a shyster but he had an extraordinary ability to pull women, given his scant regard for personal hygiene. He always got away with it. He was never angry and he never judged people."

Hardee's 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."

Hardee's 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."

Comedian 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.

18th February 2005

Funeral at Which the Mourners' Tears Were Caused by Laughter
by Richard Alleyne

Rarely 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.
Appropriately, for a man who was described as being to comedy what John Peel was to music, the 18th century splendour of St Alfege's church, Greenwich, south-east London, was filled with laughter from start to finish.
Even Father Peter Fellowes, conducting the service, could not help but crack the odd joke.

The 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.

Yesterday 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.

His 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.

Arthur Smith, the broadcaster and long-time friend of Mr Hardee, added: "Everything about him was original apart from his stand-up act."

After 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.

This 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 operator.

After the service, Vic Reeves said: "He lived his life for comedy. He was such a hedonist and everyone has their Malcolm story.

David 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."

Smith, 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?"

18th February 2005

Dead Funny - Comic Mal's Wacky Send-Off
by Gary O'Shea

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."

18th February 2005

Fun-eral of comic guru
By Ben Clover, South London Press

COMEDIANS Johnny Vegas and Harry Hill were among the hundreds of people who said farewell to one of the godfathers of contemporary British comedy whose funeral took place yesterday. Comics Arthur Smith, JO Brand, Keith Allen and Jenny Eclair, also joined family, friends, and fans of Lewisham-born Malcolm Hardee, whose body was pulled from the Thames earlier this month.

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.

Charlton-born 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 service.

Balham-based comic Arthur Smith told those gathered: "Everything about Malcolm's life was original - apart from his stand-up material!
"All of us gathered here, friends, colleagues, people he gave stage time to, people he stole cars from, all have a few stories to tell about him." Mr Hardee's former stand-up partner Alessandro then sang the song Nessun Dorma, a piece the duo used to perform on stage while naked - apart from an ever-dropping number of balloons to protect their modesty.

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."

18th February 2005

Malcolm Leaves 'em Laughing
by Gary Nicks

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.

21st February 2005

Cheers, Malcolm
Comics say their farewells

by Steve

Malcolm Hardee’s 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 Greenwich’s 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.

They recounted 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:

• Nick Wilty recounting the time they won a Fortnum & Mason’s hamper in a pub quiz and, after relieving it of its alcohol, passed caviar and other delicacies to the tramps of Greenwich

• Andre Vincent 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 Inman

• Owen O’Neill 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 wife

• Simon Munnery 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 Hardee’s 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 night’s 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 dressed… 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.

Malcolm’s 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 background.

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, Malcolm’s friend from The Greatest Show On Legs.

After last night's farewell, a bigger West End tribute is now being planned.

24th February 2005

Band's Tribute To a Comedy Genius
by Will Kilner

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.

"The likes 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 great tributes."

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 by him.

Mr Gill added: "My sister first met him in Cornwall in 1978 when he was doing an adult Punch and Judy show.
"He came to this area to perform once every couple of years. He was very well-known and well liked around here. In the early days, he performed at the County and Station, the Pavilion and the Temple, then over the last nine years he came to the Fishpond."

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.

23rd February 2005

Tribute Gig Keeps It Nude, Rude and Crude
by Ben Clover

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 have wanted."

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.
Simon Munnery told of a Hardee visit to his flat in which he stole everything in his bathroom. Andre Vincent described the lengths Malcolm once went to to obtain a fancy pair of shoes (which included offering to buy a house). But it wasn't just comics on the Sunday night bill.

Pianist Jools Holland provided a musical interlude, playing a blues number which he claimed Malcolm had written.
Other turns included an aero-plane impersonator, a naked opera singer, and a man who did something unadvisable (and unprintable) with a lit firework.

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.

3rd March 2005

Quite a Caricature - Hardee Cartoon Stolen at Wake
by Steve Bennett

Who would have thought it? A thief at Malcolm Hardee’s 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. Hardee’s 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 and Frank.

Now she has launched an appeal through the local paper, the Bexley Mercury, for whoever swiped it to return it.
She said: "Malcolm did tell me once who did the drawing but I can't remember. It's very good and really captures him and I'd like it back. Despite that, it was a great day and I'd like to thank everyone. People have been wonderful about Malcolm."

Johnny Vegas, Harry Hill and JO Brand were among the scores of comics and hundreds of friends and family at Hardee’s funeral at St Alfege Church on February 17.

For older newspaper articles, see OBITUARIES

For a report on the Inquest, CLICK HERE