Edinburgh comic Jay Lafferty’s Brexit gag makes front page of New York Times

Jay Lafferty's Brexit rant on BBC Scotland made front page news across the pond. Picture: BBC Scotland/Ross Colquhoun
Jay Lafferty's Brexit rant on BBC Scotland made front page news across the pond. Picture: BBC Scotland/Ross Colquhoun
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An extended gag about Britain’s Brexit woes on the new BBC Scotland channel has ended up on the front page of the New York Times.

Edinburgh comic Jay Lafferty was appearing on the BBC Scotland panel show when she set off on a rant about Prime Minister Theresa May’s failure to get her deal through the House of Commons and the deadlock over Britain’s departure from the EU.

The comic’s 38-second gag was used in full to help promote the show, hosted by Des Clarke, on BBC Scotland’s social medial channels.

A clip was subsequently sent to New York Times writer Roger Cohen by a friend, with the journalist using it to illustrate where Britain has arrived at after almost three years after voting to leave the EU.

Under the headline “Brexit heads for that big black hole,” the paper run her gag in full.

Speaking on Breaking the News, she said: “So the way I understand it is that Parliament have said no to Theresa’s deal. And they’ve said no to no deal, but some of them said yes to no deal but no to Theresa’s deal, but not as many that said no to no deal and no to Theresa’s deal, but they don’t actually have a deal of their own, which is a big deal because without a deal then no deal is more likely to be the deal that’s dealt, and the people who want the deal can’t be dealing with that.”

The piece by Cohen also stated: “You can hoodwink people — but not if you give them three years to reflect on how they were hoodwinked before doing the deed the hoodwinking was about.

“The British cannot actually go through with something that will lower their incomes, make them poorer, lose them jobs, drain investment, expose their market to trade deals over which they would have no say, and — just an afterthought — lead to the breakup of Britain.”

Lafferty, who wrote the gag for a recording of Breaking the News at the end of last month, said she had been messaged by friends in New York to take her she was on the front paper of the paper.

She said: “I was bit blown away when I first heard about it. It’s been a bit of a shock to the system.

“I was teaching kids all week at The Stand comedy club in Edinburgh and was up really in the morning. I went to make a cup of tea and saw a message on Twitter asking if I knew I was on the front page of the New York Times. I looked at it and didn’t know what they meant at first. It took me a while to release that they had used the whole quote. I couldn’t believe it.

“I’ve had other comedians get in touch with me to tell them they’ve been sent the clip by people all over the world.

“We probably talk about Trump and Brexit every week on the show. All that stuff about Theresa May going backwards and forwards with her deal was going on all week.

“You write so many little bits for each show and you don’t get a chance to say all of them - you pick and choose what to say in the moment.

“But this was actually the first thing that I said on the show. I knew that if I could nail saying it properly, and not mess it up, it would be quite relatable to people, especially in a Scottish accent.”

Lafferty made more than 100 appearances during last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe and will be again with a new show this year at the Gilded Balloon.

She added: “As a comedian, you never really know what is going to spark the interest of people. You just your best to be funny. If people laugh in the room they will also generally laugh online. It got a great response at the time that I said it.

“You can tell from my reaction afterwards that I’m just relieved to have got it out.”

• You can view the full clip showing Jay Lafferty’s Brexit rant here.

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