Have you ever said something after being invited to an industry conference as a keynote speaker that you later wholeheartedly regretted?
If you have, you’re not alone.
Pioneering British comedian Kenny Everett was invited to the 1983 Tory party conference by the Young Conservatives in an attempt to attract the youth vote.
The performer’s friend Michael Winner, who was also present at the event, encouraged him to take to the stage wearing his trademark foam rubber oversized hands.
Mr. Everett then proceeded to start shouting such slogans as, “”Let’s bomb Russia!” and “Let’s kick Michael Foot’s stick away!” to rapturous applause from the audience in attendance.
The media fallout was predictably scathing and various commentators gave their opinion on the matter, stating that Mr. Everett’s presence at the conference was cheapening the entire political process.
Everett’s remarks were clearly intended as a satirical slant against the Tories, but various po-faced onlookers acted as if they had been meant to be taken seriously.
Mr. Everett later said that he regretted his appearance at the rally, and that he was not really a Tory, but that he had taken the foam hands to the rally because the Tories had asked him first.
In a 1989 interview on The Late Late Show with Sinéad O’Connor, Everett was challenged by the singer about his apparent support for the Tory Party in light of his homosexuality and the Conservative party’s section 28 addition to the Local Government Act.
Everett said that he was not a “full Tory”, but that he was appalled by the actions of Arthur Scargill, whom he said was “inciting violence” and “rabble rousing” and who he thought resembled “Hitler reborn”. Mr. Everett stated that he had consequently supported the actions of Margaret Thatcher in opposing Scargill as a result.
Everett said that he would stand up for gay rights if he were asked to, providing “it was a jolly occasion”, but that he also felt that by being in a minority and in the public eye, he would be doing more for gay rights by showing that he was funny and human.
Have a look at the video below and ask yourself if you would ever consider turning up to a keynote speaking engagement wearing oversized latex hands, if you would, it’s fair to say you might end up getting as much flak for it as Mr. Everett did.