Jeremy Hardy

I first met Jeremy at the end of 1983 when we were both trying to get topical gags on Week Ending, the Radio 4 satire show where anyone could walk in off the streets with a plastic carrier bag full of jokes and get paid £13.40 a minute if you were lucky enough to get anything on. (You have to remember, £13.40 wasn't a lot of money in those days.)

At the time, I was also starting out as a stand-up on the alternative comedy circuit, and when Jeremy said he was interested in pursuing that route, I gave him some of my contacts and wished him luck.

I can't remember if it was Jeremy's first ever gig, but it was certainly one of his very earliest. I stood in the audience and watched his set, and when he came off I had two words to say to him...

"You bastard."

The man was a natural. He looked so utterly comfortable on stage. It was effortless with him. Everything that I struggled with, he instinctively mastered. Although it took me a couple of years to admit it to myself, it was probably in that moment I realised I should give up.

Jeremy's stand-up career of course went from strength to strength. I wrote for his radio sitcoms, Unnatural Acts and At Home With The Hardys. Since then, I've worked in hundreds of writing rooms with all sorts of very funny people, but I honestly don't know if I've ever worked with anyone who could consistently beat everyone else to a joke as often as Jeremy could.

The other thing I had in common with Jeremy (broadly speaking) was our political views. When we argued about politics over the years, I often considered myself to the left of him. But that was only in ideological terms. When it came to what he actually did for socialist and humanitarian causes, he put me and just about everyone else I know to shame.

Funnily enough, when Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, we pretty much ended up on the same page. I remember talking to Jeremy in the pub after I'd watched him doing a gig to celebrate Corbyn becoming leader. “Blimey, I suppose we'll have to join the Labour Party now,” he said.

And for the first time in my life, I did.

Reply · Report Post