Joe Lycett defends Qatar performances

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In a statement released on Twitter, he said:  “Oops! I’ve been caught out by The Sun!

“I did two gigs in Doha in 2015 and kept it entirely secret by writing about it in my own book and mentioning it in multiple interviews including with the NY Times!

“If you’re interested, I was paid a few hundred quid (not by Qatar but by UK comedy promoters) but it was 2015 and that went a lot further back then.”

He added that if he had been offered money to cancel the shows he may have taken it.

“I reckon that if a popular comedian from those days (eg Shane Ritchie) had shredded a few hundred quid to persuade me not to go, it would have made a difference. But who can say?

“I don’t have the perfect hindsight and spotless morality of, to pick a completely random example, The Sun newspaper.”

Some fans had criticised the comedian for his stance on Qatar after saying they had seen him perform there.

Melanie Sweeting posted on Twitter:  “I don’t understand why you are so angry as I remember seeing you perform here in Qatar at the Radisson Blue at the Laughter Factory!

“You didn’t seem to have a problem taking Qatari money that night?”

‘Don’t be a hypocrite’

James Sutherland, another fan, added: “Many people sharing Joe Lycett’s publicity stunt shaming David Beckham.

“In 2015 he performed stand-up in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. By all means feel free to criticise David Beckham, but don’t be a hypocrite about it.”

Writing in his memoir Parsnips, Buttered, Lycett said he had performed in the Middle East and criticised anti-gay laws.

“I was performing stand-up in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar,” he wrote.

“Friends of mine had warned me about travelling to these countries, claiming that ‘they don’t like’, as one friend put it, ‘your lot’.

“The punishment for homosexuality in these countries is oft jail, the logic of which I’ve never understood. Oh, you like men? We’ll put you in a box with some’. Not exactly a punishment, lads!”

The row comes after Beckham responded to Lycett in a statement that aired during his Channel 4 special about the stunt, Joe Lycett Vs David Beckham: A Got Your Back Special.

A spokesperson for the former footballer, 47, said he sees it as “positive” that debate about “key issues” has been “stimulated” by the contest being held in the country.

Elsewhere in the episode, the comedian spoke to Naser Mohamed, who claims to be the first and only openly gay Qatari.

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