Jeremy Hardy: Said it Straight and Funny
Jeremy Hardy was one of the UK’s foremost stand-up comedians. His live work included ‘Just 4 Laughs’, (Montreal Comedy Festival), the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where he won the prestigious Perrier Award in 1988. Arthur Smith described him as ‘a profoundly witty and honourable man.’
He came up through the 1980’s comedy club boom in the political wake of what was then called ‘Alternative comedy’. His personality and satirical material matched perfectly this new and exciting form of cleverly constructed verbal comedy routines. Often hitting hard at the government of the time. The Guardian once wrote of him, “In an ideal world, Jeremy Hardy would be extremely famous, but an ideal world would leave him without most of his best material.”
Jeremy went on to perform regularly through out the British Isle’s on sell out tours and appearing on various TV shows as a guest stand-up. He appeared as Jeremy the boom operator in the Rory Bremner-led BBC comedy show ‘Now – Something Else’ as well as appearing in sit-com ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ (1989). Rory Bremner described him as ‘Unfussy, unshowy, principled, self-deprecating, hugely loved & admired by his fellow comedians, and funnier than the lot of us put together. A unique comedian & a lovely man’.
In 1995 Jeremy appeared in and co-wrote ‘Jack And Jeremy’s Real Lives’ with Jack Dee for Channel 4. Jack paying tribute said ‘Jeremy Hardy was ground-breathtakingly brilliant, off the register funny, compassionate and caring. So privileged to have counted him as a dear friend. My love goes out Katie and Betty and all his wonderful family’. In 2001 he was also a team captain alongside Graham Garden on BBC2’s critically acclaimed series ‘If I Ruled The World’.
In 2002 Jeremy performed a sell out run at London’s prestigious Cochrane Theatre. He also performed in and co-written ‘Unnatural Acts’ and ‘At Home With The Hardys’ (BBC Radio 4) from which a very successful stage show ran at both the Edinburgh Festival and Hackney Empire. However he probably found his home on radio and believed he worked best on this media. His radio work included being a regular panellist on BBC 2’s ‘Loose Talk and a regular guest on Radio 4’s ‘Just A Minute’, ‘And I’m The Queen Of Sheba’, ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue’. Hardy was also regularly heard as an essential member of BBC Radio 4’s hugely popular ‘The News Quiz’ team.
Jeremy Hardy’s first book When Did You Last See Your Father? was published by Methuen in 1992. His second book Jeremy Hardy Speaks To The Nation was the product of the Radio 4 show of the same name. In 2004 the radio show was nominated for a prestigious Sony Radio Award for Comedy. Ed Byrne thought of him as a ‘lovely bloke, very funny and a genuine force for good’. Justin Moorhouse a comedian of a different generation said ‘Jeremy Hardy was the gentlest,kindest,funniest person. He was just brilliant with me when I worked with him on the radio. Encouraging, supportive and just a nice bloke. I’m grateful for having met him and known him a little’
He was also a regular columnist for The Saturday Guardian and The Evening Standard. Alan Davies recalled his ‘best Jeremy Hardy line, his response to being told we are all responsible for the ozone layer & global warming: ‘I may have a couple of squirts under my arms but I’m not Runcorn chemical plant am I?’
Jeremy toured the country with his one man show and was always in demand as a speaker and corporate humorist. Mark Steel said of Hardy ‘I was so lucky to have spent 35 years arseing about with him. Knowing him as I did, I know he wouldn’t want you to be sad, he’d want you to be bloody devastated’
Hardy’s intelligent disdain holds the attention throughout. Whatever the political folly, he can tease a laugh out of it. – The Times 2004
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.