Soho Theatre ‘sorry and saddened’ by claim comic hounded out Jewish audience member

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Soho Theatre ‘sorry and saddened’ by claim comic hounded out Jewish audience member

Paul Currie alleged to have told a man who attended his performance in central London to 'leave my f***ing show now' when he failed to give him a standing ovation as he raised a Palestinian flag

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Comedia Paul Currie
Comedia Paul Currie

A central London theatre has said it is “sorry and saddened” at claims that a comedian who performed at its venue has been accused of directing an abusive rant at a Jewish member of the audience as they refused to join a standing ovation after he waved a Palestinian flag.

Paul Currie, who describes himself as an “experimental fusionist” and an “absurdist laughter chef” was coming to the end of his Shtoom show at the Soho Theatre in central London last Saturday, when he produced a Palestinian flag and a Ukrainian one from a prop box.

He then actively encouraged the audience at the Dean Street venue to give him a standing ovation.

Spotting one male still in his seat, according to onlookers the comic approached him and asked him: “Didn’t you enjoy my show?”

The man, who was later claimed to have been Israeli, allegedly replied: “I enjoyed your show until you brought out the Palestinian flag.”

What had begun as a humorous exchange quickly turned nasty, according to onlookers.

Sources then claimed Currie shouted: “Leave my fucking show, Now!… Get out, now.”

The man and his partner both got up to leave, and were joined by at least four others, all said to be Jewish audience members, who had witnessed the exchange and were left deeply uncomfortable.

Jewish comic Josh Howie confirmed on Monday he had spoken to one of those who had been hounded out of the show, posting on X: “This man was dignified, shaken, but defiant. Jews will not allow ourselves to be ostracised from public spaces.”

But sources told Jewish News the situation went “from bad to worse” as chants of “Free Free Palestine” begun to be heard from some in the theatre.

A message circulating on social media, allegedly written for one of the four people to leave the show in protest at Currie’s conduct, said:”The young man and his partner rose to leave, and the four of us immediately rose to exit as well, as we both did not want to be part of an antisemitic rant, as well as feeling unsafe.

“By the time we exited, what felt like the entire audience was up on its feet shouting, ‘free Palestine’ and ‘get out.'”

It continued: “Our friends later received a message from someone they knew who had also been at the show, saying that after we left, the situation became even more inflamed. What had been intended to be an evening of comedy turned out to be what felt like an antisemitic rally.

“We will be contacting Soho theatre to complain about Paul Currie, and are wondering if you have any suggestions of where else to report this.”

It is also claimed that a manager inside the theatre failed to recognise the complaints made by the Jewish audience members saying the venue was supportive of “free speech.”

In a statement on Monday, a spokesperson for the Soho Theatre confirmed: “We are sorry and saddened by an incident that took place at our venue at the end of a performance of Paul Currie: Shtoom on Saturday 10 February which has caused upset and hurt to members of audience attending and others.

“We take this very seriously and are looking into the detail of what happened as thoroughly, as sensitively, and as quickly as we can. It is important to us that Soho Theatre is a welcoming and inclusive place for all. ”

Currie had not responded to a request for him to comment, but on his Instagram page on Sunday, he posted a quote from Mexican poet Cesar A. Cruz which read, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”.

The post continued: “If you were at my show last night… you’ll know.”

Currie also posted footage of himself on a pro-Palestine march.

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