Soho Theatre bans comedian accused of ‘hounding out’ Israeli audience member

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Soho Theatre bans comedian accused of ‘hounding out’ Israeli audience member

Responding to complaints about comedian Paul Currie, the Soho Theatre said:'Such appalling actions are unacceptable and have no place on our stages, now or ever.'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Paul Currie  (Instagram / @paulcurriecomedian)
Paul Currie (Instagram / @paulcurriecomedian)

London’s Soho Theatre has banned a comedian from performing there after an Israeli audience member was made to leave and other Jewish spectators left in disgust at his antics.

The venue a former synagogue in the West End, said in a statement it “will not tolerate intimidation of audience members due to their nationality, race, religion or beliefs” following an incident at the end of a performance by comedian Paul Currie on Saturday night.

Officers are also making inquiries, the Metropolitan Police has said, after the incident was reported on Monday.The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) said it was “assisting Jewish guests who were reportedly hounded out” of the theatre.

It is understood that an Israeli man and his partner both left the venue, followed by a Jewish group of four, after the Palestinian flag was produced at the end of the performance.

People in the audience of about 200 had been encouraged by Currie to give him a standing ovation after he had earlier raised the Ukrainian and Palestinian flags.

The Israeli man was then reportedly asked why he had not stood and said he had enjoyed the show until the Palestinian flag appeared.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.

The comedian has been contacted for comment.

But he has posted what appeared to be a response on Instagram, sharing a Palestine poster with the caption: “I will not quietly nor politely sit and make house within the depravity of this killing machine.”

In their statement, Soho Theatre said: “On Saturday evening, following the end of Paul Currie’s show Shtoom, Jewish members of the audience were subjected to verbal abuse and the performer aggressively demanding they leave the theatre.

“Such appalling actions are unacceptable and have no place on our stages, now or ever.

“We will not be inviting Paul Currie back to perform at our venue.”

The venue added: “Whilst we robustly support the right of artists to express a wide range of views in their shows, intimidation of audience members, acts of antisemitism or any other forms of racism will not be tolerated at Soho Theatre.

“We are continuing our investigation, discussing the incident with that evening’s audience and consulting with the police. We are working with the Campaign Against Antisemitism to meet with members of the audience who were affected. We are taking professional advice to safeguard the much-valued inclusivity of Soho Theatre.”

A Met Police spokesperson said the force was aware of the incident, adding: “We understand why it was upsetting for those involved and we note the venue has issued a statement confirming they are looking into what took place.”

Inquiries are “ongoing”, the statement said.

Shtoom was described on the Soho Theatre website as a “unique, surrealist, dada punk-clown, non-verbal experience from the award-winning Belfast comedy artist Paul Currie”.

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