Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
15 November 2018

Chortle mixed up two black women when reporting on an all-white comedy gig

The row began when details of the comedian Harry Hill’s Christmas charity fundraiser event were released earlier this week. 

By media mole

Comedy news and reviewing magazine Chortle thought two different black women were the same person – in a piece criticising an all-white comedy gig.

The row began when details of the comedian Harry Hill’s Christmas charity fundraiser event were released earlier this week. Writer and comedian Lolly Adefope noted on Twitter that, of the 23 comedians in the line-up (including Jimmy Carr, Rob Brydon, and Jo Brand), every single one was white.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

The viral tweet drew in comments from hundreds of users, one of them being Otegha Uwagba, the founder of Women Who, a London-based community for working women. In her tweet, she said of anyone trying to claim the line-up was not intentionally white: “that is bullshit.”

Chortle then reported on the controversy. In and amongst reporting on the apology from Harry Hill (about the, again, zero people of colour on this 23-person bill) and mentioning how other comedians participating claimed it was a harmless a mistake (but not, actually, pulling out of the gig), it included Uwagba’s quote calling it the aforementioned “BS”. Except, rather than, you know, attributing the quote to Uwagba, a woman of colour, it attributed it to Adefope, another woman of colour instead.

While this Mole was writing, Chortle corrected its mistake. But, in reality, it could have probably got away with it – it’s hard to tell one comedy magazine apart from another, after all.