Comedian bombs, dodges projectile
ENGLISH comedian Nish Kumar says he is surprised his Brexit material caused such an angry response from a crowd at an annual charity lunch.
The BBC star was heckled off the stage and had a bread roll thrown at him from the crowd at the Lord's Taverners annual charity cricket Christmas lunch in London.
In an ordeal that was captured on film by one of the spectators and then posted to social media, Kumar was filmed making Brexit jokes about English Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former Prime Minister Theresa May - and they bombed spectacularly.
A man who says he filmed the video that's been widely shared on social media this week says event organisers failed to read the room when Kumar was invited up to the stage.
The spectator says Kumar's set crashed almost immediately when he started with Brexit jokes.
"It was the most embarrassing thing I've ever seen. It was Brexit straight away. He came on and he killed the audience. It took less than a minute," the witness told The Telegraph.
"People were booing him. He had bread rolls thrown at him.
"He said 'what you need here is far right comedians.' 'Far right' - it was just deeply offensive. He started arguing with the audience. He alienated literally everyone.
"After being booed he refused to leave the stage till they stopped."
The video shows a bread roll being thrown onto the stage near Kumar as a restless crowd continues to heckle him in a very awkward situation.
Refusing to give into the shouts calling for him to get off the stage, Kumar tries to defend himself and his jokes.
"You are the only audience in my entire 13-year history of performing that have actually thrown something at me," Kumar said.
"I should have known this would happen when I agreed to do a set in front of people who colonised my ancestors."
As the room continued to grow louder and angrier, Kumar launched one final attempt to rescue the situation, referencing former House of Commons speaker John Bercow.
"What, you want jokes," he said.
"I was trying to tell you some jokes before you all started shouting.
"I'm not going anywhere. Absolutely not. I'm full Bercowing it. Absolute Bercow. I know you want me to do it but I'm not gonna leave. Absolutely not. Absolutely not."
"It's an election season and I thought it would be interesting to spark a conversation here," explained the comedian, "but clearly the conversation I've sparked is, 'this guy is a bit of a d***head'".
"I did think it would be nice to come here and talk to some people who had a different political outlook to me, and I thought it'd be interesting for me to share my perspective - but clearly that's not been the case."
"What I don't want to do is to detract from any of the fantastic work done by the charity."
It was later revealed Kumar had agreed to do the event for free because it was a charity event.
The master of ceremonies eventually walked onto the stage to escort a defiant Kumar off the stage.
I understand I’m trending because someone threw bread at me. Anyway please donate to @chooselove & vote out the bread throwers on December 12th.— Nish Kumar (@MrNishKumar) December 3, 2019
A BBC radio host has who attended the function described the behaviour of some members of the crowd as "appalling".
I was embarrassed to be there. On an afternoon that was supposed to be about kindness, there was a distinct lack of it in the room.— Greg James (@gregjames) December 3, 2019
Because I’m seeing some inaccurate press reports, I’d just like to say that the treatment of @MrNishKumar by some members of the crowd at the @LordsTaverners fundraising Christmas lunch yesterday was appalling. It’s a charity I was proud to be an ambassador of...— Greg James (@gregjames) December 3, 2019
...and the work they do with disadvantaged young people is extraordinary. But yesterday served as a timely reminder that disagreeing with someone doesn’t mean you have the right to abuse them verbally or physically. I was devastated for Nish (who gave his time for free)...— Greg James (@gregjames) December 3, 2019
Kumar has admitted in an interview with the Guardian that he was surprised by how easily offended sections of the crowd were.
"I was surprised at how angry they were but that's the way it goes at the end of the day," he said.
"I spend a lot of time bathing in a glow of consensus, but you have to be willing to say something to people who might not agree with you and take the consequences of what follows."
Lord's Taverners said in a statement the event raised more than $300,000.
"This event alone raised a staggering £160,000, which will go towards helping to empower disadvantaged and disabled young people to fulfil their potential through sport and build foundations for a positive future," the statement claimed.
"We are not, and never will be, a political organisation and we don't endorse the views of the guest speakers at our events, which are their own.
"However, nor do we endorse the reaction of a minority of audience members at yesterday's event.
"Nish Kumar's attendance was arranged in good faith and he gave his time for free to support the charity and our work. He follows a long tradition of comedic special guests at the event.
"We are extremely proud that in the past year we have raised over £4m, with nearly 12,000 young people having participated in our cricket programs all over the UK, and just over 31,000 items of sports kit having been recycled across 20 countries.
"We will continue to focus all our efforts on developing sporting chances for young people in 2020 and in many years to come."