Inside the London ‘comedy’ show that became an ‘antisemitic rally’

Israeli theatregoer Liahav Eitan reveals further details about shocking night


Avid theatregoer Liahav Eitan was hounded out of Soho Theatre on Saturday night. Pictured in another theatre this week.

Running down Tottenham Court Road away from a crowd shouting “shame” and “free Palestine” was not how Israeli software engineer, Liahav Eitan, imagined spending his 33rd birthday.

But that was the situation in which the avid theatregoer found himself after he was told by comedian Paul Currie to “get the f*** out” for objecting to the display of a Palestinian flag during a show at London’s Soho Theatre last Saturday. 

The incident was widely reported – but the JC can reveal further shocking details about the terrifying night which led to the theatre banning the stand-up and issuing a statement against “appalling and unacceptable intimidation and abuse”.

The show turned sour for Eitan when Currie showed the audience a Ukrainian and Palestinian flag. Eitan said thought the inclusion of the flags was nonsensical: “The comparison of Ukraine and Palestine is completely wrong and populist,” he said.

A member of Soho Theatre, Eitan said he loves live performance and described Currie’s silent show – which included eating 18 cornflakes and spitting them at the audience – as “kookie” and “bizarre”.

When Currie requested a standing ovation towards the end of the show, Eitan remained seated next to his friend. Currie picked them out and thanked them for not standing and clapping, to which Eitan replied: “Thank you for the Palestine flag.”

Taken aback, Currie asked Eitan if he was being sarcastic; the Israeli told him he was not.

“And then he came back again and said, ‘Did you enjoy the show?’ I said, ‘Yes, up until that point.’

“He seemed quite confused that I didn’t support his call and said the flag was part of the show.

“Then he mumbled under his breath something about us ‘killing children.’

“Then he just turns back to me and starts screaming, ‘I’m from Belfast. I know about the ceasefire. Ceasefire now. Get the f*** out of my theatre. Get out, get the f*** out of my show, motherf***ers, get the f*** out of here.’”

The temperature in the room shifted and Eitan knew he had to get out. Eitan and his friend gathered up their things to leave while the audience all called out “shame” and Currie led the crowd in a “ceasefire” chant.

“It felt like real mob mentality. The crowd could have turned; it could have turned violent. People were very drunk. It felt like an incredibly dangerous moment,” Eitan said.

Because of the configuration of the theatre, Eitan and his friend had to walk across the stage, “right past Currie”, to get out. Eitan described how the comedian told the pair, “’Motherf***ers, you have to see this flag again on your way out’” as they passed him.

“The whole audience saw us,” Eitan said.

Several other audience members also left the show when the chanting began, “When I saw two couples leaving behind us, instantly I knew they were the other Jews in the room,” Eitan said.

Once out of the theatre, Eitan was confronted by streams of audience members: “When I got to the street, I saw the same faces that had been in the crowd shouting at us. It was very dangerous, I felt really vulnerable.”

Eitan and his friend ran from Soho Theatre all the way to Tottenham Court Road. “We didn’t stop until we reached Bloomsbury,” he recalled.

It certainly wasn’t the birthday celebration Eitan had been expecting.

His dad tried to convince him “not to show his face” and keep a low profile, but he’s since appeared on TV to describe the incident: “I wanted to stand up to the bullies, for that you need to show your face.”

“I’m not going to be bullied”, Eitan said, “He [Currie] had the mic and the stage. I didn’t start this with him, he was trying to bully me. He could have come to me quietly and asked me why I didn’t stand up but he had to do it like a bully.”

Eitan did not tell Currie he was Jewish and wondered: “He might have expected a Jewish person to be white”, he went on, “he probably thought someone who looks like me would agree with him.”

“I had friends at Nova festival and other friends who were cowering in their kibbutz safe room as terrorists went around their neighbourhood. If I’d known what Currie would do, I wouldn’t have gone to this pro-Palestine rally.

“These days, theatres have trigger warnings for everything”, Eitan went on. “I didn’t know the show was going to include Israel/Palestine. There could have been a warning so I knew not to buy a ticket.”

Currie – who has now been banned from Soho Theatre – frequently posts anti-Israel content on his social media and Eitan suggested, “From his Instagram, it looked like he came to the show from a rally.”

The Israeli, who has lived in London for five years, said, “The last four months have hardened me with all the protests. I didn’t expect anyone in the crowd to protect me from antisemitism.”

“London hasn’t been feeling safe,” Eitan went on.

This week, the CST reported that 2023 saw an unprecedented explosion of Jew-hate, with 4,103 recorded incidents – 81 per cent worse than the previous high in 2021.

Another audience member who walked out said: “What had been intended to be an evening of comedy turned out to be what felt like an antisemitic rally."

On Tuesday morning the controversial comic appeared to double down on his alleged behaviour by posting an anti-Israel poster to his Instagram which read: “I will not quietly nor politely sit and make house within the depravity of this killing machine”. This week, he continued to thank his supporters and said on social media he was “humbled” by those defending him.

Currie has appealed for witnesses to come forward. He shared a written account from audience member Shaun Ames, who alleged that the comic “was in no way antisemitic” and claimed that Eitan told Currie “’we hate the [Palestinian] flat and we hate you for using that flag.”’ This recollection does not reflect Eitan’s experience – he told the JC that he never said he hated the Palestinian flag.

Industry website Chortle published the accounts of other audience members who acknowledged that Currie asked Eitan to leave but disputed that the incident was antisemitic.

One person, Clare, said Currie "told the man to get out" but claimed “Nobody shouted 'get out'. Some people did shout and clap for 'ceasefire now' - some people stood up. The war is very upsetting, the images have been horrific.

“At no point did what happened feel like an antisemitic rally or that we were witnessing an antisemitic rant. If it had, we would have left immediately.”

In the aftermath of the incident, Soho Theatre, which is on the site of a former synagogue, issued an apology. This week, the theatre published a longer statement: "Soho Theatre will not tolerate intimidation of audience members due to their nationality, race, religion or beliefs.

"On Saturday evening, following the end of Paul Currie's show Shtoom, Jewish members of the audience were subjected to verbal abuse and the performer aggressively demanding they leave the theatre.

"Such appalling actions are unacceptable and have no place on our stages, now or ever. We will not be inviting Paul Currie back to perform at our venue.

"Whilst we robustly support the right of artists to express a wide range of views in their shows, intimidation of audience members, acts of antisemitism or any other forms of racism will not be tolerated at Soho Theatre.

"We are continuing our investigation, discussing the incident with that evening's audience and consulting with the police. We are working with the Campaign Against Antisemitism to meet with members of the audience who were affected. We are taking professional advice to safeguard the much-valued inclusivity of Soho Theatre."

On Friday, reports emerged that Currie had been removed from the Melbourne and Brisbane comedy festivals.

Paul Currie was contacted for a comment.

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