Comedian Joe Lycett reported to the police over stand-up joke
Stand-up comedians are having a strange time of it at the moment, being slapped on stage at the Oscars and finding themselves at the centre of debates about free speech and the so-called culture wars.
Joe Lycett, though, is one of the good guys: a British comedian with a killer line in self-deprecation who goes viral for the right reasons – i.e. holding the government to account with clever bits of satire, such as his spoof Sue Gray report.
Nevertheless, the 33-year-old has his detractors including, as he shared in an Instagram post this week, an audience member who reported him to the police for a joke he told in one of his shows.
“So someone came to my tour show a few weeks back and was offended by one of the jokes. And their perfectly understandable response to this was… to call the fucking police,” he wrote.
Spotting what is admittedly a gift of a piece of PR for his tour, Lycett – who regularly stars on TV shows like QI and Taskmaster – didn’t reveal the whole offending joke, but did tease the punchline:
“To be fair to them the fuzz were very nice about it all but felt they had a duty to investigate. This involved me writing a statement explaining the context of the joke for them; I particularly enjoyed putting the words ‘giant donkey dick’ into a message to a police detective.”
He added that he wouldn’t be taking the joke out and that “The tour continues until September, unless I am jailed.”
You might be tempted to dismiss the whole thing as a stunt – after all, this is the man who last year staged a walk off protest from a TV show about single use plastic – but the Instagram post included a screenshot of an email he received from the police, which would seem a somewhat risky thing to fake.
It's also been confirmed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) that the complaint was indeed made following Lycett's gig at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on 8 June. “Enquiries were made and no offences were detected", a presumably tired police officer said.
What to make of someone reporting a comedian to the police for a joke they didn’t like? Hard to say, but it's a strange world when transphobic slurs get you to the top of the Netflix charts but a line about animal anatomy results in a 999. Welcome to 2022, everyone.
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