Simon Brodkin would like to thank David Duke and the alt-right for their help with his latest stand-up show.

The creator of comedy character Lee Nelson, Brodkin is also well known for his high-profile pranks on celebrities and politicians, including one on Donald Trump.

Image: Brodkin in character as Lee Nelson made headlines for handing Theresa May a P45 at the Tory Conference in 2017
The P45 handed to Theresa May at the Tory conference in Manchester

While he's used to a flurry of public and media interest after a stunt, Brodkin says the reaction to showering the now-president with swastika-emblazoned golf balls at his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland knocked him sideways.

"There was this torrent of hate that came my way online from the Ku Klux Klan."

It was fuelled by David Duke, the former grand wizard of the KKK, who tweeted a link to a story about the stunt. Several of Duke's followers suggested the comedian should be "gassed".


It's that "online anger, anti-Semitism and hate in general" Brodkin has used to feed into the narrative of his new show.

"I didn't ever think that I would talk about being Jewish on stage but because it's become relevant with the hate that I got, then suddenly that's something that I do want to talk about," he says.

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"It's pretty pertinent now with what's going on with the mood of the country, and obviously a big talking point in the Labour Party."

Despite the serious nature of the topic, Brodkin remains philosophical, jokingly thanking the white supremacist for his help with his set.

"David, thank you so much for the torrent of hate that came my way, it's really inspired about 20 minutes of my show. You've been like a rock to me. Also, Donald Trump and the alt-right crew, thank you, guys."

Comedian Lee Nelson/ Simon Brodkin is taken away by security while holding golf balls stamped with swastika as he protests against Donald Trump at his Trump Turnberry Resort in June 2016 in Ayr, Scotland
Image: Brodkin was taken away by security after protesting with golf balls stamped with swastikas at Donald Trump's golf resort in Scotland

His show, 100% Simon Brodkin, which he is performing at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival, is the 41-year-old comic's first as himself.

It comes 13 years after his first Fringe gig, Simon Brodkin: Everyone But Himself, so it's quite the turnaround.

So why drop the cover and remove the mask now?

Growing up in the affluent Hampstead Garden Suburb, and training as a doctor, the real Brodkin couldn't be further away from many of his comedy creations.

He says doing stand-up as himself, talking about things in the real world that he really cares about, feels like "the natural progression".

He also says it's something that every journalist he talks to is "obsessed with".

"Obviously, in my everyday life I don't normally stand there with a microphone and make jokes solidly for an hour. But that is as close to me as I can be up on stage, as much as performing a show as yourself can ever be you."

And why the characters in the first place?

"I never really felt comfortable to be and perform as myself. And that's something that I've changed recently. I want to step out because when you talk about yourself there's fewer places to hide.

"As a character there's always a layer there… Suddenly when you're being yourself your balls are on the line."

And many of his stunts do – to coin Brodkin's phrase – take balls.

Comedian Simon Brodkin (L), playing his character Lee Nelson, interrupts singer Kanye West on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm near the village of Pilton in Somerset, South West England, on June 27, 2015
Image: On stage at Glastonbury with Kanye West

Trump is far from Brodkin's only prankee – Theresa May, Kanye West and Sepp Blatter have also fallen prey to his tricks.

So how did it feel to hand Theresa her P45 back in 2017?

"It was a surprise that she took it in her hand so nicely. And that it has taken more than a couple of years for her to actually go down to the job centre and use it."

And what about storming Kanye West on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival three years ago?

"He had a slightly smaller sense of humour than even I imagined," says Brodkin. "I knew the guy took himself seriously… He just looked at me as I bounced on stage holding a toy microphone from Argos pretending to rap alongside him.

"He didn't even give me the time of day. He just looked, thinking in his head: 'Right. That's that song ruined. I'm gonna have to start again'.

"I'd like to think had it been the Gallagher brothers, they would have let me join in one of the songs or just knocked me cold out."

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