Wednesday, 2 September 2009

A joke too far?

As the Edinburgh Fringe Festival draws to a close, kudos must be awarded to the resourceful comedian Lewis Schaffer, who scooped the Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award for the best publicity stunt at the festival. Schaffer not only persuaded Scottish publication ‘The List’ that he was the sponsor of this year’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards, but he also managed to convince them that the Awards would now be called ‘The Lewies’ in his honour, and that his mother would be on the judging panel!

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, John Fleming, co-producer of the Malcolm Hardee Awards, was quoted as saying, "What impressed me was when he was forced to issue a retraction for the false press release he managed to include full details of his own show… twice.”

Schaffer faced close competition from Shed Simove, who was noticed after he printed details of his show, ‘Ideas Man’, on every sheet of 1,000 toilet rolls, and Warren & Hanbury, who climbed Arthur's Seat naked to publicise their show, ‘All To Bare’.

Obviously, these techniques aren’t transferable to every situation - I don’t think we could get Walkers to print their press releases on toilet roll, and why exactly would we want to?! However, what Schaffer and his colleagues do remind us is that the best publicity stunts are simple, smart and just a little bit cheeky!

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