Bing Crosby famously dreamed of a “White Christmas” but that heartwarming phrase is being used with far less affection to refer to a British comedy show featuring nearly two dozen comedians — not one of whom is a person of colour.
The upcoming show — a benefit for U.K. muscular dystrophy charity Action Duchenne — was organized by famed British comedian Harry Hill, and features such famous comics as Alan Carr, Rob Bryden, and “Little Britain” star Matt Lucas, but a promotional poster for the event led to unexpected controversy due to the poster’s obvious lack of diversity.
The poster led to a pointed jibe from black comedian Lolly Adefope.
Adefope followed up with another tweet, pointing out that she’s not trying to disparage the charity but intended to start a conversation, which she definitely did.
“Good intentions shouldn’t close you off to conversation,” she added.
In a statement issued through Hill’s publicist, reports comedy website Chortle, organizers of the event promised to “address the issue” and apologized “for any offence caused.”
“The event is being organized by Harry Hill in aid of a charity he has supported for a number of years as patron. Harry has enlisted comedians who are giving up their time for free to support the cause at Christmas — acts who weren’t aware of the full lineup,” reads the statement.
“Harry asked a diverse range of comedians if they were available, with conversations with others still ongoing, and the lineup reflects who could perform on the day at the time of the event going on sale,” the statement continues.
‘We fully acknowledge in hindsight that the lineup and marketing doesn’t represent the diversity of the comedy industry and should have been addressed prior to being released,” the statement adds. “We apologize for any offence caused; it was never the intention of the organizers to present a non-diverse lineup and we’re sorry that Action Duchenne have found themselves in the middle of the discussion around it.”
The statement concludes: “We are looking at how best to address the issue and we remain hopeful that the event raises money and awareness for an important cause. We welcome contact from any acts that would like to take part on what we’re sure will be a brilliant night, and once again apologize for any offence caused.”
Meanwhile, here’s a look at how the diversity discussion played out on Twitter: