A charity Christmas lunch descended into chaos yesterday when attendees failed to see the funny side during a performance by left-wing comedian Nish Kumar.
Footage from the event in London shows Kumar being forced to leave the stage after his politically charged jokes provoked boos, shouts and jeers, with one outraged audience member lobbing a bread roll.
Who is Nish Kumar?
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Kumar is a comedian and host of BBC Two’s The Mash Report, a satirical news show currently in its third season.
The 34-year-old Londoner is outspoken on British politics and a vocal critic of Brexit.
“Last year, on the night of Brexit, a guy told me to ‘go home’ while I was on stage, and that was, for want of a better term, a Falling Down moment for me where I thought: ‘F**k this’,” Kumar told The Guardian in an interview earlier this year.
“I have not got over Brexit,” he added. “When we voted for it, it kind of broke my heart. That anger has not left me.”
What happened at the event?
Kumar - a lifelong cricket fan - agreed to do a set for free at the Lord’s Taverners annual charity cricket lunch.
Founded in 1950 at the Tavern pub at Lord’s Cricket Ground, the charity says it is “dedicated to giving disadvantaged and disabled young people a sporting chance”, by offering opportunities “to engage in sport and recreation in their local communities”.
Tickets to the charity’s Christmas fundraiser, at Park Lane’s Grosvenor House, cost from £149 per head, with some guests paying £270 for a champagne reception.
Kumar’s set started well, but the crowd turned hostile when he criticised Boris Johnson and imperial British rule.
The comedian then denounced Brexit and called for a second referendum, further angering his audience.
Many heckled Kumar, and one member of the crowd threw a bread roll at him.
But Kumar remained unrepentant. In a reference to former Commons speaker John Bercow - who was in the audience - the funnyman said: “I’m not going anywhere... I’m full Bercowing it. Absolutely Bercow. I know you want me to do it but I’m not gonna leave. Absolutely not. Absolutely not.”
The compere was finally forced to jump on stage to persuade Kumar to leave, appearing to push him away while thanking him for giving up his “time to come and support the charity”.
“Now is the time to draw the raffle,” the compere added.
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And the reaction to the row?
Kumar appears to have taken the incident in good humour, tweeting a video of Bob Dylan talking about being booed off stage, and following it up with another tweet saying that the lobbed bread roll didn’t hit him.
BBC Radio 1 presenter Greg James was in the audience, and “reprimanded the bread thrower”, says the Daily Mail.
James later tweeted the crowd’s behaviour had been “appalling” and he was “embarrassed to be there”.
But others have condemned Kumar over his set. Lord’s Taverners member Mike Fitchett, who was also at the lunch, told the newspaper: “The Taverners got it totally wrong. I’ve been going for years and I have never seen anything like it.
“The man was just not suitable and it wasn’t the place for him to air his views, which were basically a lefty slant on politics and Brexit. It left a very bad taste.”
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