Clary Lamont Joke: Julian Clary, a homosexual television comedic legend, made a crude remark about then-UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont, whom Clary said he had just been ‘fisting,’ after comparing the awards’ stage set area to Hampstead Heath, a famous gay cruising location.
Clary said, “I’ve just finished fistfighting Norman Lamont. Consider a red box.” David stated that he had viewed Piers Morgan’s ITV1 Life Stories interview with Julian Clary.
He said that he found it difficult to watch because of Piers Morgan’s personal participation in the 1993 Comedy Awards incident. He claimed Piers Morgan — the Sun’s Showbiz Editor at the time – was to blame for the ensuing ‘public uproar’.
David was at the London Studios’ press room on the night of the British Comedy Awards.
He was seated in the room with Piers Morgan. The ITV Duty Log was being relayed to a tiny neighboring room (which included viewer complaints).
To contextualize the incident, David noted that Norman Lamont had been booed by the Comedy Awards crowd when he went on stage to give an award.
When Julian Clary made the “fisting” allusion, the whole audience chuckled, and Piers Morgan remarked that the majority of viewers – especially Sun readers – would have no idea what the term “fisting” meant.
Viewer complaints did come in – but they were about a joke about (as David believed he remembered) a puppy. No viewers expressed outrage about the audience’s booing of Lamont or the real Julian Clary “fisting” joke.
However, towards the conclusion of the performance, comedian Michael Barrymore (who was at the height of his fame at the time) recalled Julian Clary’s joke and followed it with a fist-pushing mime.
“We’re going to have to run it now!” Piers Morgan said something, David recalls, and Piers rushed off to call the Sun newsroom.
The next morning, David recalled, the Julian Clary story was splashed over the front page of the Sun.
Piers Morgan was elevated to become the News Of The World’s youngest editor some months later.
Now, in 2013, here on ITV, the man who had caused Julian Clary’s agony – Piers Morgan – seemed to empathize with his victim.
Lamont and his wife Rosemary were in attendance at the 1993 British Comedy Awards, and to add insult to injury, Michael Barrymore, the next presenter on stage, vividly illustrated the comment.
The joke was well-received by the viewing audience, who burst out laughing, but many major newspapers immediately began a campaign to have him removed off the television.
LWT was obliged to issue an on-air apology, and Clary was pulled from a Christmas program on Radio Scotland.
Clary subsequently said of the incident, “It was blown out of proportion.” “You have 15 seconds and are supposed to be amusing. I dared to say it while I waited in the wings to continue. I believed it was slightly near the knuckle, but had I known the uproar that would ensue, I would not have bothered. There you have it.”
When asked whether he regretted cracking the joke, Mr. Clary said, “No, I have no regrets!” I mean, that was a very well-constructed joke, which I like, so… Taxi drivers continue to exclaim, ‘Remember that night?!’ When I die, I know that will be the quote.”
The television comic has since stated that he no longer goes out of his way to be outrageous, stating, “I mean, occasionally, if I’m speaking in great detail about a gay sex act or something, and we’re playing in the home counties, that can cause a gasp – but when I started out in the 1980s, it was Margaret Thatcher, and I was kind of angry, and it seemed appropriate.” You cannot continue to be furious in this manner. My focus at the moment is the laugh – it’s become an addiction.”
Consider the video clip below and consider how your career might be impacted if you joked about ‘fisting’ a prominent politician at an industry event. It’s reasonable to assume that you would not be asked to speak at an awards ceremony for many years – as Julian Clary was later invited to do.