Monday, 17 June 2019

Jo Brand: I’m sorry for acid remarks

Jo Brand: I’m sorry for acid remarks

JO BRAND apologised last night (Thursday) for her controversial on-air remarks about milkshake protesters and battery acid during a special Henley Literary Festival event.

The 61-year-old admitted that her comments, which were made as part of a BBC Radio 4 comedy show broadcast on Tuesday night, had been “insensitive”, adding that she would like to “humbly apologise”.

After being introduced by interviewer Francesca Perryman, Brand told a capacity audience at Christ Church in Reading Road: “Before we start, I’d just like to talk to you about something.

“There has been a complete storm going on all afternoon and on social media today and I just wanted to say a few things about it from my point of view.

“It stems from a line that I did on a radio show called Heresy which was on the other night. Now this show is set up so that comedians who appear on the show argue points from an unreasonable position for so-called comic effect.

“What I said was an attempt to joke, and I have to say I didn’t mention anybody by name — I certainly didn’t mention Nigel Farage — but it was about people having milkshakes thrown at them. And I said, you know, wouldn’t it be better if they were throwing something like battery acid?

“Now I know most people would think that’s a very tasteless joke. But having said that, I said, obviously, I would never do anything like that, that’s complete fantasy, and I’m sorry.”

Brand added that in the wake of the show being broadcast, Brexit Party leader Mr Farage had complained about her comments on Twitter, sparking a social media storm.

“Nigel Farage lifted half a line that I did. And the second part of the sentence qualified to some extent what I’d just said.

“But that bit was left out completely [from his tweet], so it just looked like I’d done the joke.”

The comedian’s exact words as broadcast on Tuesday night were: “Certain unpleasant characters are being thrown to the fore and they’re very, very easy to hate. And I’m kind of thinking, why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?” She added: “That’s just me. I’m not going to do it, it’s purely a fantasy. But I think milkshakes are pathetic, I honestly do. Sorry.”

Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday said the BBC should explain why the joke had been deemed “appropriate content” for broadcast.

Explaining the context in which she had made the remarks, Brand told the audience: “I felt that I was fulfilling the brief of the show. It’s not a live show, it’s edited, and so I had absolutely no control over what they decided to put out.”

However, when later asked if she felt she had been let down by the show’s editors, she said: “I would never try and lay the blame at someone else’s door. I mean, the fact that they thought that was okay to go through was a decision that they made independently of me. And I don’t feel that I want to criticise them for that.

“From my own point of view, I think the joke that I did — it was crass and it was clumsy.

“And the thing is, as a comedian, you know, you’re not perfect all the time — you’re under pressure to kind of do stuff all the time.

“Sometimes you just say something crass and you think ‘I wish I hadn’t said that’. And because I kind of felt that as I was doing it [the show] and I added, you know, that it was just a fantasy, that I would never do that, and I’m sorry, okay?

“But weirdly that didn’t get into Nigel Farage’s tweet – just the horrible bit did. [But] I’m not trying to get myself off the hook. I take full responsibility for what I did.”

She added: “I realised that a lot of people would think the joke that I did was very tasteless. When I was younger the whole issue of throwing acid at people was not around at all, and in some way — and I don’t know how I did this — I just bypassed and forgot that it’s been a big issue.

“What I said was insensitive and I really would like to apologise to anyone who’s either suffered that sort of attack or knows someone who has. I humbly apologise for that and I really didn’t mean to hurt anyone.

“I am not inciting anyone to do anything and I am not a politician — I’m just responsible for myself and what I say, which is very different. So that’s all I have to say on that.”

Later on, however, Brand again turned to the audience and asked, to laughter, “Will you write to me in prison?”

The 7.30pm talk to promote Brand’s latest book Born Lippy was the comedian’s second appearance of the day at the Reading Road venue, a 2pm matinée having been added by the organisers due to popular demand.

This year’s Henley Literary Festival runs from Saturday, September 28, to Sunday, October 6.

Authors so far announced include Mary Berry, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Julian Clary, David Nicholls, Kate Atkinson, Max Hastings, Prue Leith, Nadiya Hussain, Melvyn Bragg and Dom Joly.

For more information, visit www.henleyliteraryfestival.co.uk

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