Festival Diary: Weird and wonderful in running for Fringe's Hardee annual awards

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THE memory of everyone's favourite Festival maverick continues to live on, thanks to the Fringe award named in his honour.

Nominations for this year's Malcolm Hardee awards for comic originality include a New Yorker who performs outside the mosque, a web- footed pianist and comedian's comedian Stewart Lee.

The awards celebrate the spirit of Hardee - who invented the tradition of calling shows Aaaaaaaaaaaargh - in order to be first in the Fringe programme, and who once dictated his own rave review to The Scotsman copytakers.

New Yorker Lewis Schaffer, who won the Cunning Stunt award last year, has been nominated for performing his show twice - once in the open area next to the Central Mosque, and once in the venue after a listings mix-up meant people were arriving early.

Other nominations include "uncomfortably weird" Dr Brown, the "web-toed gay dyslexic pianist", Robert White and punk rock chat show host Bob Slayer.

Competing for the Cunning Stunt award for the best publicity stunt are Stewart Lee for comedy poll subversion, Arthur Smith for critic baiting, and Manos the Greek, who claims he is planning to donate 10 per cent of his fringe earnings towards helping the Greek economy.

No more long lies

CAITLIN Hannah McGuinness, 13, is briefly stepping down - make that standing up - as Esmeralda, in Pip Utton's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The role requires the surprisingly arduous task of lying dead on stage for an hour while Utton does his number as the lonely Quasimodo.

A fifth Esmeralda, an American actress said to be a protege of Massachusetts' Walnut Hill School, is to take the role this week.

Caitlin was the fourth Esmeralda to take the post after others retired early, one with cold feet - literally. The hardest part, she said, was "trying not to sneeze - it's very dusty in there. The back of my head gets sore too because I don't have a pillow."

She helped Utton to a five-star review, she said, and it was all worth the applause.

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