Comedian Nish Kumar was met with a hostile crowd at the Lord’s Taverners annual charity cricket lunch yesterday.
After making what he considered to be “extremely mild jokes about Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees Mogg, Theresa May and the Brexit process for not going well”, the audience began to heckle and boo. One even threw a bread roll at the comedian.
Kumar told his audience, “You are the only audience in my entire 13-year history of performing that have actually thrown something at me”.
While some of the audience were described as “appalling” by Taverners’ ambassador Greg James on Twitter, others tried to show their support by applauding some of Kumar’s responses to his rather frosty crowd.
His assertion that “I’ve never left the stage before my contractually allotted time, and you lot are not gonna make me do that”, was met with applause from some of the audience.
In response to one heckler who yelled that he wanted some jokes, Kumar quipped, “I was trying to tell jokes before people started throwing bread at me. It’s very difficult, I’m trying to stay off carbs guys.”
“Listen, I did think it would be nice to come here and talk to some people who have a different political outlook to me and I thought it’d be interesting to share my perspective, but clearly that’s not been the case”, the comedian explained.
He continued: “What I don’t want to do at any point is detract from the fantastic work done by the charity”, a statement which was met with applause. The charity in question, the Lord’s Taverners, supports children living in poverty or with a disability through sport.
Perhaps encouraged by this slightly warmer reception, Kumar went on, sparking further genuine laughter and applause: “In fact if anything, what I would say is, how about you all donate some more so that they can get a budget to pay some right wing comedians?”
However, after trying to continue along this vein of humour with a few more jokes about right wing and left wing comedians, the audience became hostile once more. When Kumar finally began to bring his set to an end, conceding that he had at least done “sixteen of twenty minutes”, the audience began a slow clap.
Kumar broke off at this point and warned, “If you clap me off, I won’t leave. … I was ready to leave, but now that you lot have started behaving like pricks, I’m not going.”
He was then joined by the host of the evening who asked, “Can I shake your hand, sir?” He then continued: “Ladies and gentlemen, Nish gave his time to come and support this charity today, and I think the very least we can do is say thank you for doing that.”
The comedian was then escorted off stage.
Lord’s Taverners said in a statement: “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.
“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 programmes 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“.