Free speech is something which is discussed widely in the media. We appear to be freer than ever to tell the world about what we think through the means Twitter, Facebook, blogs, vlogs, and so on, and yet the topic divides us daily. In the UK, we have the right to freedom of speech, with a handful of exceptions of course (racism, homophobic comments and so on). These exceptions, as we know, can lead to lawsuits and long running cases, often tried through the newspapers, about whether what someone said about another person, is reasonable. Louise Reay, an award-winning stand-up comedian and documentary maker, is now feeling this pain as her estranged husband is suing her for defamation. This is happening following a performance she did about, ironically, censorship and authoritarianism, in which she mentioned him briefly. As a result of this law suit, her fellow comedians are putting on a comedy gala to both raise money for her defence and to make a statement about comedians’ freedom of speech.
The gala will take place on Monday 21 May in support of comedian Louise. Produced by Berk’s Nest, Rabbit Rabbit and Amy Annette, the gala will take place at the Lyric Theatre in London’s West End.
Dubbed ‘Ex Appeal’, the gala will showcase performances from some of the UK’s finest comedians, from household names to rising stars, and will raise funds for Louise’s legal defence in the case being brought against her by her ex-husband.
There is a fabulous line up of comedians confirmed to perform including Aisling Bea, Sara Pascoe, Nish Kumar, Josh Widdicombe, David O’Doherty, Josie Long, Rachel Parris, Ed Gamble and Lolly Adefope, with more names to be announced in due course. All profits will be donated to the crowdfunding campaign that Louise has set up for her defence.
On 30 January 2018, Louise was served with defamation, privacy and data protection proceedings by her husband, from whom she is separated. The claim is in relation to a comedy show that was performed in 2017. Ex Appeal is the only large-scale funding effort currently underway to support Louise and uphold comedians’ freedom of speech. Further information on the details of the case can be found in the Go Fund Me campaign set up by Louise.
Louise has been performing stand-up since age 16. Louise is a fluent Chinese-speaker and has made a range of documentaries on social issues for the BBC and Channel 4. Louise has written and performed in two live shows questioning our attitudes to language, immigrants and race: It’s Only Words and Que Sera (些拉). She has been nominated for Best Comedy Brighton Fringe (2017), Brighton Fringe Tour Award (2016) and Edinburgh Fringe Groundbreaker (2016), and won the Adelaide Fringe Best Emerging Artist (Weekly Award, 2017), South Africa Arena Prize (2017) and Alternative New Comedian of the Year (2015), becoming a finalist for the Leicester Square Theatre New Comedian of the Year (2015). She most recently performed the third instalment of her provocative trilogy on power and oppression, Eraserhead, at Adelaide Fringe 2018.
I expect this to be a night filled with sarcastic “oh better not say that” and veiled attempts to not offend people – I reckon it will be a good one.
Date: Monday 21 May 2018
Venue: Lyric Theatre
Prices: £25 / £20 / £15
Box office: 0330 333 4812 / exappeal.co.uk
Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 7ES.
To donate, please visit: www.gofundme.com/comedian-being-sued-free-speech