Comedian's "Sensitivity" Back-Fires
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 22, 2003
PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND--The Plymouth Pavilions Theatre is considering legal action against a comedian who left the stage during a Monday night performance after wheelchair users refused to move from the front row.
Pavilions managers said Wednesday that they would not invite Jim Davidson back to their venue. They are offering refunds to the 1,700 audience members who bought tickets for the show.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Davidson explained that part of his act involves getting the audience to "gang up" on people in the front row. When he realized that a number of the front row patrons were in wheelchairs, he worried that "it would appear that I was specifically targeting disabled people."
The audience members refused to move, so Davidson walked out.
"Thirteen wheelchairs in the front row killed my act. I was unable to perform," he said.
Pavilions managers claimed that only 7 of the 34 people seated in the front row had wheelchairs. Besides, they said, customers with disabilities are encouraged to attend shows at the venue, and to decide on their own where they will sit.
One Davidson fan told the BBC News, "He is supposed to be a professional, if his act was based around that, why couldn't he change his act to suit the audience?"