A comic has been urged to abandon shows in Liverpool after being booed off stage for making a joke about Madeleine McCann and gun victim Rhys Jones.
Up-and-coming “funnyman” Dave Longley, 28, attacked the pair for wearing Everton FC shirts.
Longley, from Derby, told the stunned audience at the city’s Baby Blue club that “you think parents would have learned about putting their children in Everton shirts after Maddie and Rhys”.
The red-faced comic - who describes himself as “taking tricky issues to any audience” - was booed off stage.
According to a club worker he left the building “a shadow of his former self”.
PE teacher Alison Pritchard, 25, from Prescot, Merseyside, watched the show.
“He started off really funny and seemed confident,” she said.
“Then he asked someone in the audience what football team he supported.
“The guy in the audience said ’Man Utd, but you shouldn’t make football jokes’, but the comedian carried on and asked who supported Liverpool.
“There was a big cheer, but he said he didn’t know whether to tell this joke, that it wasn’t his joke and he didn’t write it.
“Then he told the joke.
“Afterwards the whole place went silent and everyone was just looking at each other thinking ’Did he actually just say that?’
“He went really red and started saying: ’It’s just a joke’ but someone shouted: ’Imagine if someone from Rhys’s family was here’.
“Then people booed until he got off stage.”
This afternoon Longley, a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with TV projects in the pipeline, was in discussions with his manager and Liverpool’s Rawhide venue where he is scheduled to play two gigs next month.
Rawhide marketing manager Ian Christy said it was unlikely the comic would return to Liverpool in the near future.
He said: “We are talking to his agent this afternoon to see if he wants to go ahead with it.
“It looks like he won’t be playing those shows.
“He made a serious error of judgment and it will be better for all concerned if he isn’t playing Liverpool in the near future.
“You trust comics to make calls about what’s funny and what isn’t, he got it badly wrong.”
Rhys, 11, was murdered last month walking home from football training.
Like Madeleine, no one has been caught for the crime.
Everton FC spokesman Ian Ross, who befriended Rhys’s parents during appeals for information about the killer, said: “Having met Rhys’s family, they are truly wonderful people going through an appalling experience and this man should be ashamed of himself.
“I certainly speak for every Everton fan in this city and probably all the Liverpool fans when I say they’d be eternally grateful if this man never performs in this city again.
“There are boundaries you never cross because of common decency and this man obviously knows nothing about common decency.”
Longley’s manager, Lee Martin, said: “Dave was having a great gig and got a little carried away.
“By his own admission he made a stupid mistake and greatly regrets the ill-chosen joke.
“He has made a donation to the fund.”
Longley’s promotional material describes his work as “Cutting edge comedy from a newcomer making massive waves on the UK comedy circuit”.