Apology after O2 security drag comics off stage | Jazz Emu and Zach Zucker manhandled in 'traumatizing' Just For Laughs incident

Apology after O2 security drag comics off stage

Jazz Emu and Zach Zucker manhandled in 'traumatizing' Just For Laughs incident

Organisers of London’s Just For Laughs festival have apologised after security dragged performers off stage during a show.

The staff manhandled musical comic Jazz Emu and host Zach Zucker off the stage of the Spiegeltent in the O2 complex when the show they were performing ran late.

Comedian Desiree Burch, who was also on the bill, described the  incident as ‘traumatizing’, while another audience member called it ‘some of the worst security management I've ever seen’.

Some of the aftermath of the security intervention was caught on camera:

In a joint statement today, Just for Laughs and O2 owner AEG Presents – which co-produced the four-day event – issued a public apology for the incident, which happened almost two weeks ago but was not reported at the time,

The organisers said: ‘On Friday 3 March at the Stamptown event at Just For Laughs London, there was an attempt to remove one of the artists from the stage, due to the event running significantly past curfew.

‘We sincerely apologise to the artists and fans present for any distress caused. This is not usual protocol for events at The O2, or events conducted by AEG Presents or Just For Laughs. We have reached out to Jazz Emu’s team to apologise and address this directly.’

Burch was the most outspoken about the incident and posted a long thread on Twitter. The London-based American comic said: ‘Yes, the show overran, as they do. Arts venues have a long established history dealing with this: turning off the tech, turning up house music & lights, heavy fines to prevent it.

‘At no point should hands have been put on a performer (who was lifted and carried offstage) by security. I've been a performer for 20+ years & honestly never seen this mishegoss [Yiddish slang for craziness] b4 in my life.

‘I can only imagine how traumatizing it was for the artist - not knowing what was happening as a physically dominant person carried them away mid-performance.

‘This was on top of having their chance to perform at #JFLLONDON taken away instantaneously and unceremoniously through no fault of their own. On the real, it was traumatizing to watch as an audience member. Only to then be abruptly rushed out of the venue by security…

‘TBH, the display that occurred on Friday night and the response to it took longer than the closer's act would have done. I also think it's vital to figure out communication between the festival and the venue for the future….  It sadly made for an unwelcoming experience for those attending an otherwise delightful performance… What I witnessed on Friday can't ever happen again.’

Jazz Emu – real name Archie  Henderson – laughed off the incident, posting an image with the caption: ‘Two minutes after being dump-tackled offstage by  @theo2london security… rumour has it, for being too potently seductive! Once again I am forced to curse this erogenously Tiny Butt.

He added: ‘The only compensation I will accept is a headline show in @theo2 arena, in which I'm permitted to carry each individual member of security offstage one by one as revenge.’

@stupididioms called it: "Some of the worst security management I've ever seen. (And I've been to some bad venues in my time). No one was even playing after AFAIK [as far as I know]. So it was all so the security team could pack in on time.’

Representative for Stamptown and Jazz Emu have not responded to requests for comment Chortle made earlier in the week.

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Published: 15 Mar 2023

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