Standup comedian’s husband sues for defamation over ‘provocative’ show
An award-winning standup comedian is being sued by her estranged husband for allegedly defaming him in her show.
The lawsuit, described by a leading lawyer as a test case, relates to a show by Louise Beamont (stage name Reay). Hard Mode was billed as as a “provocative show [that] explores censorship and surveillance”; though one critic described it as being “at its core … about a very recent and raw heartbreak”.
Thomas Reay is also suing his wife for breach of privacy and data protection, is seeking £30,000 in damages plus legal costs and wants an injunction to prevent her publishing statements about him, she said.
Beamont, the 2015 Alternative New Comedian of the Year, said she would be bankrupted if she loses the case and has launched a crowdfunding page to raise money for her defence.
She wrote: “[Hard Mode] was a 50-minute show about censorship and authoritarianism, asking the audience to imagine that the BBC had come into the control of the Chinese government.
“During that show, I referred to my husband a couple of times – perhaps 2 minutes’ worth of reference in a 50-minute show. The main gist of those references was to tell the audience how sad I was that my marriage had broken down recently.”
Beamont said that she removed the material from subsequent performances at the Edinburgh fringe last summer – without admitting liability – when she received the first complaint from her husband but a writ was subsequently issued
Beamont, who refused to comment beyond a post on her gofundme page for legal reasons, wrote: “As standup comedians, I believe it’s the very definition of our job to talk about our lives and social issues. So this has become a free speech issue – and free speech means everything to me.”