Fake news! | There's no evidence that being anti-Brexit harms a comic's career, says Stewart Lee

Fake news!

There's no evidence that being anti-Brexit harms a comic's career, says Stewart Lee

As usual, The shit Daily Telegraph is full of utter shit and naked political bias where its comedy coverage is concerned.

 In a desperate and contrived article by Rozina Sabur yesterday, the paper suggested that comedians’ careers are being harmed if they perform anti-Brexit material, and it achieves this mainly by cut and pasting comments made by Marcus Brigstocke somewhere else, and twisting them to appear to say something they probably didn’t.

It may be the case that the premise of the article is true, but there is no hard evidence in Sabur’s piece to back this up.
According to Sabur, ‘a number of comedians have described scripting their take on Britain leaving the European Union for left-wing audiences in London, only to face unamused audiences when they take their acts out to the rest of the country’. But it is only able to find Marcus Brigstocke as an example of this ‘number’.

The only other comedian Sabur mentions is me, in a vague non-committal sentence which says: ‘Comedian Stewart Lee has also spoken of some audience members' reactions to his material poking fun at leave voters during his shows.’ But it does not clarify what the reaction I am talking about is, or where I said this, which would make a massive difference.
I have spoken about this idea on stage as a joke, and in print about how it might affect circuit comedians whose audiences expect their Friday night fun demands to be met, as has Stephen Grant prophetically on Chortle.

 In reality the reaction to my Brexit material on the road has been only positive, though I suggest on stage that it may not be, for dramatic and comic effect.  I am playing to the biggest and most enthusiastic audiences of my career at present all over the UK – hopefully comprised exclusively of Guardian reading liberal Remain voters –  and the bit where I call Leave voters racists and cunts provokes a delighted reaction during and after the show, from grateful punters, many weeping hot tears of snowflake thanks, especially in heavily Leave voting areas, where they are clearly desperate for the comforting release of pent-up emotion that sometimes only laughter can provide.
A simple five second Google would have found Sabur more examples of touring stand-ups, (Nish Kumar, Josie Long, Bridget Christie, Al Murray), doing well, nationally, out of anti-Brexit-themed shows than it would of comics suffering from covering the subject, although again this does not necessarily prove anything, as the experiences of the unknown foot-soldiers of club comedy won’t show up in searches, so the impression would be skewed. But Sabur didn’t bother to check anyway.
Nonetheless, when I wrote unpaid for photocopied fanzines in the 1980s and 1990s, they told us we needed three examples of something before we were allowed to identify a trend.

The Daily Telegraph thinks barely two will do, presumably having downgraded the numbers required in order to justify their twat comedy critic Dominic Cavendish’s ongoing quest to prove there’s a new vanguard of popular right-wing comedians on the Edinburgh Fringe, of which he also can only ever seem to find the same two every year. If only there were a third!
I haven’t included a link to Sabur’s stupid article, as that will drive revenue-generating traffic through the shit Daily Telegraph’s website, which is even more shit than the paper itself, but Sabur asserts: 'Comedians have told how anti-Brexit jokes are killing their careers as audiences outside of London walk out in offence.’

But all Sabur actually has to go on is that Marcus Brigstocke has said some people walked out and may not come back.  To extrapolate from this that his career is being ‘killed’, whether you like him or not, is nonsense.

It may be that the people that didn’t walk out will all come back and bring two Remain-voting friends next time. And to make the singular comedian Brigstocke into the plural ‘comedians’, without naming a single other example of the trend you are trying to imagine, is fundamentally dishonest and an example of bad journalism that should have been rejected by any decent editor, and sent back to substantiate its claims.
From a nakedly commercial point of view, it would make sense for a comedian to be anti-Brexit.  It’s sad but true that the elderly Leave voting audience will die off sooner than they younger Remain voting audience, and the Remain voting audience have higher disposable incomes to spend on comedy.
In the 172 comments below Sabur’s thick piece, no-one mentions me, which is superb as it means I am off the radar of these moronic Daily Telegraph reading cunts, as I am with Daily Mail reading cunts too, although Telegraph reader Paul Mynn is annoyed with the imagined material of a fictional comedian; ‘Lee Herring is a twerp. Let's build a wall round London to keep the toerags in. And they can pay for it!’ Where I am concerned, the inaccurate paper has the readers and writers it deserves.
Nonetheless, the shit Daily Telegraph has still managed to put me in a bad mood on my birthday. And it makes me worry, if the right-wing press can be this shoddy and biased covering comedy about Brexit how can we trust what they tell us about Brexit itself?

And if you are a journalist reading this, no I am not prepared to comment on this  in your crappy clickbait paper, or appear on bent Radio 4 news either.

POST-SCRIPT: I have just checked my email and found this Sabur tried to contact me yesterday, at 3.59pm on April 4, via my agent, for comment for this piece before it ran at 6.49pm the same day, a doubtless labour-intensive intensive 2hrs and 50 minutes later.  I am camping in a wood and don’t have a smartphone, so didn’t get the email, a narrow escape. Nonetheless, the piece is still rubbish. And so is Brexit.

Published: 5 Apr 2017

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