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Return of the virtue signallers’ comic scourge


AFTER being cancelled for 15 months, Andrew Lawrence returns to stand-up comedy next Monday.

Andrew was banned in July 2021 for posting ‘racist’ jokes, or as they were described across the media, racist ‘jokes’. You may remember the wonderful spirit during the European Football Championship last year, as England progressed to the final to the tune of Sweet Caroline and the deflation we felt when we lost on penalties, again. The following day any residual good feeling was buried beneath endless news reports about a tiny minority of racist tweets attacking the footballers who missed their penalties. News media focused relentlessly on these tweets and the message seemed to be: ‘You’ve had your fun with your England flags, now put them away and prove that you’re not racist.’ ‘Taking the knee’ was reinstituted when the Premier League started a few weeks later. 

Andrew made the mistake of thinking that in this febrile atmosphere it was a good time to make some jokes on Twitter. On Marcus Rashford, he tweeted: ‘I’d rather he practised his penalties and the kids had gone hungry’ and ‘I’m sorry that black guys are bad at penalties.’ Each time people became more irate, he doubled down. Andrew is drawn to the humour that can be found when everyone around him is in self-righteous angry mode. He finds the greatest fun in jokes that are close to the bone. Does he mean it or is he adopting the mindset of the caricature that is being created of football fans? Is it a funny joke that pokes at piety and virtue-signalling, or something cruel? He likes ambiguity and people who don’t get it are just a source for more jokes. The less they get what he’s doing, the funnier he finds it. The real problem is that those who don’t ‘get it’ went all out to get him.

Andrew’s return to live comedy coincides with the most bizarre World Cup ever held. Many comedians will target the corruption of the organisers and hypocrisy of those who take part in Qatar. These are the obvious targets. It is the response of those taking part that is likely to be truly hilarious as they try to offset their unease at being in Qatar by virtue-signalling their way through the tournament. This tension is going to be a scream. England’s first game is against Iran. Will the Iranians laugh if England ‘take the knee’? Will England players drape themselves in LGBTQ+ rainbows to show their Arab hosts the true way of being? The team flew out in a plane named ‘Rain Bow’ with a camp mascot waving the Union Flag. Is this going to be the biggest display of queer campness ever put on by a football team? The fun starts here.

As a build-up to the England versus USA World Cup match, we are hosting a UK/USA Comedy night at the Backyard Comedy Club in Bethnal Green next Monday, November 21. Tim Young is flying in from the States, Abi Roberts represents Wales, Andrew is decidedly English and Dominic Frisby will be representing the United Kingdom of Libertaria. Tickets are only £7.

Details here:

About Comedy Unleashed

Founded by Andrew Doyle and Andy Shaw, Comedy Unleashed is the UK’s ‘Home of Free-Thinking Comedy’. We provide a ‘permissive space’ (not a ‘safe space’) for comedians to experiment, take risks and have fun. We want audiences to be free to see and hear what they choose. The only judge of good comedy is whether or not it is funny. Find gig details and join the mailing list here. 

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