Jeremy Hardy is dead

by Harry on February 1, 2019

When I reached my late thirties I became very anxious about the possibility that I would never find anyone my age or younger funny. At the time, all the comedians I loved were considerably older than me and, for the most part, I’d liked them for years. I did, always, hold in my head that slender woman with long hair who had driven me and a bunch of Trots into fits of laughter sometime in the late 80’s and who had to be around my age.

I had missed the comedy boom in the UK (driven by people around my age) because I was out of the country, and foreign media culture was inaccessible in the States. (And, I’m sorry, but I struggle to think of an American television or radio show that I find funny—even Roseanne, which was entirely brilliant, wasn’t really brilliant because it was funny). Of course, now, I’ve learned to my relief that young(ish) people can be really funny, and I feel entirely relaxed about living a long life if that’s what fate has in store. The first step was first listening to Jeremy Hardy on The News Quiz, and, after a long time of finding him hilarious and lovable, discovering that he was about 15 years younger than his comic persona—only a couple of years my senior! And then that he was friends with Linda Smith who was also 15 years younger than her comic persona! I sometimes wondered whether you had to (roughly) share his politics to find him funny: my evidence against this is that my friend from secondary school who says she’s voted for every major political party loved him as much as I do and, now, Hugo Rifkind’s charming twit.

Here are two of my favorites. FIrst, Jeremy Hardy singing Hallelujah in the style of George Formby.

And here he is chatting with Mark Steel. A long, rambling, chat about fame.

If, as I doubt, there is an afterlife, it has become a much more realistic utopia, much funnier, and enormously less tuneful, in the past couple of weeks.

{ 7 comments }

1

Chris Armstrong 02.01.19 at 1:45 pm

He was very funny, and seemed to be a very good guy too. In terms of whether you had to share his politics, I certainly think it helped a lot. I went to see him a year or so ago and the (unavoidable) long section in his performance on Brexit was just very…difficult. It was apparent to him, and to us, that people in the room had strong feelings on both sides and it seems that unless your crowd is very firmly one way or the other, it’s all going to be a bit uncomfortable. He gallantly soldiered on though. The News Quiz won’t be the same without him.

2

Cian 02.01.19 at 1:53 pm

Damn. I really don’t have anything to add to that.

While there are lots of things about the home country that I despise, he represented a lot of the things that I dearly miss. Including I guess the sense of humour.

3

Dipper 02.01.19 at 2:37 pm

@ Chris Armstrong “In terms of whether you had to share his politics, I certainly think it helped a lot”. Disagree. Jeremy Hardy came up on my WhatsApp group of fellow right-wing trolls today, and we were all shocked and saddened. Us RWTs are in favour of a diverse world of differing opinions and understand criticism is part of the process. Pretty much the only requirement of a comedian is that they should be funny, and he was in spades. Friday evenings and Sunday lunchtimes will be much duller without him.

4

oldster 02.01.19 at 2:50 pm

“…that slender woman with long hair who had driven me and a bunch of Trots into fits of laughter sometime in the late 80’s…”

I suppose I should know who this is? But I do not.

5

Tom Hurka 02.01.19 at 4:10 pm

The George Formby/Cohen is wonderful.

6

Harry 02.01.19 at 6:40 pm

Sorry oldster — it was Linda Smith, I’ve added a link which I forgot to add earlier.

If anyone can find more of that chat with Mark Steel — there used to be a clip of the same conversation on youtube in which they discuss the triangle of death, in which my aforementioned secondary school friend and I lived (she actually lives only just outside it even now…). It’s even funnier than the bit I found.

Here’s Mark Steel and Jeremy Corbyn.

7

Sumana Harihareswara 02.01.19 at 6:50 pm

When I saw this headline in my RSS reader I said aloud “Oh noooooo”. He was my favorite part of The News Quiz and I had no idea he was so young, only 57 — I thought he had the wisdom of a much older person. Awful to lose him.

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