CANCELED: Edinburgh comedy festival bans Irish comedian Graham Linehan after 'complaints'

Comedian and author Andrew Doyle took to X on Tuesday to call out the Edinburgh-based venue that was to host Comedy Unleashed for “cancelling” the comedy night after learning Irish comedian Graham Linehan was included in the lineup. The cancellation represents the latest effort to deplatform those who hold opinions that do not align with cultural orthodoxy. 

Doyle said on Tuesday: “Our Comedy Unleashed gig at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has been CANCELLED by our venue following online pressure.”

“It is astonishing that a comedy night at the largest arts festival in the world should be prevented from going ahead, simply because activists are offended. The comedy industry is in a dire state. It’s about time that promoters, venues, comedy critics and comedians made a concerted effort to support free expression in the arts.”

The venue, Leith Arches, shared an announcement, describing why they canceled Linehan from performing. 

It said: “we would like to thank the public for bringing to our attention, about a comedian who had been booked for an upcoming comedy show at our venue this Thursday, which we WERE NOT MADE AWARE OF until today via emails from, rightly so, outraged members of our community. We DO NOT support this comedian or his views and he WILL NOT be allowed to perform at our venue and is CANCELLED from Thursdays comedy show with immediate effect. An outside organiser was responsible for the lineup and we were unaware as to who was performing until now. We are an inclusive venue and will not allow such views to violate our space.”

Later on Tuesday, Doyle noted that though the Edinburgh-based comedy night was canceled, he and Linehan would be among the performers to appear in London on September 12 for another Comedy Unleashed night. 

Social media blew up following the revelations. 

One user said: “The fact that people can be cancelled for holding beliefs grounded in biological reality tells us just how twisted society has become. Please fight this.”

Another said: “‘We are an inclusive venue’ but only if you uphold The Party views.”

Another said: “OMG you have to be kidding me! I performed there like 10 or so years ago! What a bunch of idiots they have become! Sending love.”

The Free Speech Union chimed in, saying: “Those who claim that 'cancel culture does not exist' will struggle to explain how it is that one of the most successful sitcom writers of all time now cannot work in the comedy industry. @andrewdoyle_com on Graham Linehan's cancellation at the hands of "inclusive" Edinburgh Fringe venue Leith Arches.”

Following the news, Doyle published a piece at Unherd, saying that “five years ago, Andy Shaw and I set up a monthly comedy night in London called Comedy Unleashed. Our objective was to challenge what we perceived to be the groupthink that was developing within the industry.”

He mentioned that the impetus for creating another comedy outlet was to foster “innovative and free-thinking acts,” adding that the hope was to “cultivate a comedy-literate audience who understood that the art form cannot exist without the potential to cause offence.”

Doyle said the reason why Linehan has been canceled is because of his beliefs that “human beings cannot change sex, that women deserve the right to single-sex spaces and the chance to compete fairly in sports, that feminists such as J.K. Rowling should not have to put up with rape and death threats for stating biological facts, and that gay and autistic children ought not to be medicalized and put onto a pathway to sterilisation.”

Image: Title: doyle linehan