Chaos at Lord’s Taverners’ Christmas charity lunch as comedian Nish Kumar is booed off
The Lord’s Taverners’ Christmas lunch descended into chaos on Monday, with a comedian booed off stage and pelted with a bread roll.
In staggering scenes at Park Lane’s swanky Grosvenor House, Nish Kumar was widely heckled and saw his set cut short after sections of the audience failed to take kindly to his left-wing views on the current political climate.
Stunned witnesses have told Sportsmail that the stand-up, who hosts BBC Two’s The Mash Report, was met with boos, jeers and calls for him to leave when he shared his observations on a number of issues including Brexit.
He had started off sharing his scathing views of Boris Johnson and then on imperial British rule.
There was praise for one politician though, as he lauded former Speaker John Bercow – who was in the audience – before launching into an anti-Brexit rant and demanding a second referendum.
Video footage from the event, shared on social media, showed the extent of the heckling, as Kumar apparently implied the audience were ‘thick’ not sharing his views.
Witnesses added that Kumar, who had taken to the stage after a well-received question and answer session with Harry Redknapp, reacted defiantly and told the audience he was going nowhere.
Eventually, a quick-thinking compere stepped in at the landmark event for the cricket charity, which raised more than £160,000, and persuaded the comedian to exit the stage. At one point, with anger rising, witnesses said a bread roll was thrown.
Comedian and TV host Nish Kumar was booed off stage at Lord’s Taverners’ Christmas lunch
Nish Kumar was heckled and saw his set cut short after sections of the audience failed to take kindly to his views
According to the audience member BBC Radio One DJ Greg James – a huge cricket fan and Lord’s Taverners ambassador – reprimanded the bread thrower.
They explained: ‘He had a pop and rightly so – that was disgraceful and there was no need for it, regardless of what was going on. At one point there was even a slow hand clap. It was just terrible.’
Sportsmail understands Kumar started his routine with a few humourous race-related stories which had actually gone down well.
However, his Brexit-based material was met with shouts of ‘stop the political stuff’.
This morning, Kumar tweeted a short clip of Bob Dylan in 1966, talking about his audiences booing.
Kumar poses with the Cricket World Cup trophy at the event in London on Monday
Greg James attempted to intervene after member of the audience threw a bread roll at Kumar
This is while social media users also aired their opinions on the incident, with one man, who tweeted a video of the comedian getting booed writing: ‘Chronically unfunny BBC token, Nish Kumar booed off stage and pelted with bread rolls after spouting Leftie, Brexit rants.’
Others agreed he should have been booed off stage, while another said it ‘served him right’ for thinking everyone in the audience was a fan of the BBC.
Another claimed they hadn’t realise Kumar was a comedian, and one guest also tweeted: Loveliest afternoon at @LordsTaverners Xmas Lunch. What perfectly gorgeous people, and definitely made some new friends. Shame about that t*** Nish Kumar who wouldn’t know funny if it slapped him in the face. Otherwise, excellent company & an awesome day.’
Twitter users posted about the event, with some claiming that Kumar had ‘deserved’ the audience’s reaction, with some describing it as a ‘political speech’
Mike Fitchett, a 68-year-old Taverners member from Oxfordshire, was in the audience.
‘Harry Redknapp was tremendous and we were having a really good day, as we always do,’ he said. ‘Then this man, who is supposed to be a comedian, gets up and delivers what could only be described as a political speech.’
Mr Fitchett added that things quickly turned sour. ‘He should have just left the stage but he refused to do so,’ he said. ‘This was not at all what our organisation is about. These were extreme, far-left political views and we are a charity. It was all very offensive and I shall be writing to our chief executive to make my feelings clear.’
Harry Redknapp had earlier hosted a Q&A session that was well received by the audience
WHO IS NISH KUMAR?
Nishant Kumar is a British actor, stand-up comedian and radio presenter.
Kumar is the host of late-night satirical news show The Mash Report on BBC Two and has hosted Joel & Nish vs The World.
He has become increasingly well known for broadcasting and podcasting on topical news programmes while his stand-up routine often centres around political matters.
Former Commons speaker John Bercow, who was also said to be present, was among those targeted by Mr Kumar, according to another audience member who did not wish to be named.
‘The Taverners got it totally wrong,’ they added. ‘I’ve been going for years and I have never seen anything like it. The man was just not suitable and it wasn’t the place for him to air his views, which were basically a lefty slant on politics and Brexit. If left a very bad taste. He was booed and came off stage early despite threatening to carry on.’
Another audience member added: ‘He went full on political and it just isn’t that kind of event. It was very uncomfortable for everyone. People had gone there for a good time and to raise money for disadvantaged kids to be able to play sport. It wasn’t even comedy material – just a series of political statements.’
Former Commons speaker John Bercow, who reportedly attended, was among those targeted
After eventually being persuaded to leave, Kumar was met with a number of boos – although there was a smattering of polite applause.
Members paid £149 a ticket to be at the lunch, which is an eagerly-awaited annual fixture. Non-members handed over £169, while some guests shelled out £270 for a VIP presidents champagne reception, prime table position and upgraded wine package.
The Lord’s Taverners was set up in 1950 at the Tavern pub at the famous ground. Its current president is Sir Trevor McDonald, while others to have held the post include Sir Michael Parkinson, Prince Edward and Chris Tarrant.
Funds raised go towards providing opportunities for young people in the UK living in poverty or with a disability to engage with sport in their local communities. The Taverners and Mr Kumar could not be reached for comment.