On the brink of a new wave of fame, Chris McGlade had his show at the Soho Theatre, London cancelled because a line in one of his poems – The Right to Hate - may be perceived as anti-semetic. The cancellation came a year after the show had received standing ovations at the very same venue.
It was a massive hit at the Edinburgh Festival and McGlade says the line is delivered fully in context.He is a man who speaks his mind; he can be guaranteed to swear, hates political correctness, has no time for ‘wokeness’. He is fiercely defensive of the working class, is anti-racist and anti-sexist. His father was murdered and set on fire in 2011 - and he forgave the homeless man who did it.
McGlade has been a comedian for three decades and is well known on the Northern comedy circuit. He’s also an actor (Billy Elliot the Musical), poet, activist and grandad in his late 50s.
He brings his incredible Forgiveness tour to Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre on Tuesday, July 5 and if recent performances are anything to go by, he will receive yet another standing ovation.
McGlade is a dedicated family man whose story over the past few years is worthy of a film and will probably be made into one.
It is no wonder a mystery benefactor saw his interviews with fellow comedians Francis Foster and Konstantin Kisin on the YouTube interview show, Triggernometry, saw the furore around the ‘cancellation’ and offered to pay all the expenses to enable Forgiveness to be performed in a national tour.
In addition, as the world began to change for McGlade, the globally acclaimed director Ken Loach recruited him to act in his latest movie, The Old Oak, filmed in the last few weeks.
The Triggernometry interview gives a real insight into the man who, only a year ago, was at the lowest point in his life, contemplating the reasons for carrying on living.
His show speaks truth to many people and his recent warm-ups have resulted in scores of people laughing, crying and feeling understood for the first time. Many have found it a near-religious experience and been prompted to forgive others who have hurt them.
McGlade has been performing his tour almost nightly and even the quietest audiences have ended the evening giving him a standing ovation.
He talks frankly about his daily life, his career, his history, his feelings and his shows on his Facebook page.
He said: “This (show) is my father’s legacy. He was a funny, big-hearted, inclusive, tolerant, forgiving man.
"Humour, passion, inclusivity, tolerance and forgiveness are things I feel the world could do with a little more of today.”
He brings that same fire and energy to his performances, looking past the liberal comedy consensus and taking apart and revealing the hypocrisy in Britain today.
It might not sound funny and is certainly un-PC, but this is a must-see show.
“I want free-thinking people coming along prepared to laugh at others and themselves. I don’t want people thinking ‘can I laugh at that?’ It’s like the comedic part of the brain has been lobotomised,” he said.
“I am totally non racist, non homophobic, non sexist but I am sick to death of the politically correct society we live in whereby, just to bring the subjects up, to discuss them or in my case to laugh about them, you are immediately branded as being racist or homophobic or sexist.
"In today’s comedy, you see comedians tiptoeing through a minefield of what they are and aren’t allowed to say, but worse than this, audiences have been brainwashed into thinking twice about what they can and cannot laugh at.
“When an instinctive emotion such as laughter has to be second-guessed and the individual has to wonder if they can laugh at something that they instinctively find funny, then someone, somewhere, is controlling that individual.” he said.
“For me, this is just part of a sinister game that is being played by the real powers beyond government which seek to dumb us all down and stop us speaking out.
“I just refuse to accept the ever increasing stranglehold on our civil liberties and the erosion of our freedom of speech.
“I feel as though constantly I'm being told what I have to like, and haven’t to like, what I have to say and haven’t to say. I want the right to hate back. I feel as though the right to dislike or the right to disagree, or the right to hate has been taken away from me.
"And even though I don't want to hate, I want that right back. I don't hate any man, not even the man who murdered my father. I forgave the man who murdered my father in 2011. So I don't hate anybody. I just want to have that right to hate, to disagree, to dislike – and be able to vocalise that – back again.”
The Right to Hate has been watched by millions of people on YouTube and a global version of the poem was made with people from all around the world speaking different lines.
To book tickets for Tuesday’s show go to https://www.sheldonian.ox.ac.uk/event/chris-mcglade-forgiveness-tour. For Chris’s website see