James Corden was called out earlier this week by restauranteur Keith McNally for twice being rude and abusive to staff at Balthazar recently. It just so happened that Corden had an interview set up with the New York Times yesterday to promote his new series, Mammals. Coincidently during the interview, at a restaurant, another patron complained about her eggs (which is also what Corden apparently did at Balthazar). When James and the NYT reporter saw what was happening, James said:  

“Happens every day. It’s happening at 55,000 restaurants as we speak. It’s always about eggs.” More archly, he added, “Can you imagine now, if we just blasted her on Twitter? Would that be fair? This is my point. It’s insane.”


So if you were wondering how James would publicly handle his controversy, I think we have our answer. He is doing what so many celebrities before him have done: blame call-out culture, and suggest that he’s being bullied. 

And for the cherry on top, he’s going with the “there are more important things in the world” defence. From what I can piece together, the NYT reporter is thanking him for still showing up for the interview. Because this can and does happen – celebrities back out of engagements when they’re in some heat. 

“On Thursday morning, after a long interview in which Corden variously said that the debate about him was not worth acknowledging and that he was likely to address it in Monday's broadcast of “The Late Late Show”, he defiantly declared that he did not want credit for going ahead with what could have been – and often was – an awkward conversation. 

“I haven't done anything wrong on any level,” he said. “So why would I ever cancel this. I was there. I get it. I feel so Zen about the whole thing because I think it's so silly I just think it's beneath all of us. It's beneath you. It’s certainly beneath your publication.”


That sanctimony, right? This is classic celebrity deflection – to judge those judging them by judging right back. Is that how you’re spending time? Is that what you’re caring about when you could be caring about so many other things? Basically telling the culture reporter for the New York Times, Dave Itzkoff, how to do his job, and telling the New York Times what should and shouldn’t be in the New York Times, LOL. Hilariously that’s how he allegedly berated one of the staffers at Balthazar, according to Keith McNally. "You can't do your job! You can't do your job! Maybe I should go into the kitchen and cook the omelette myself!" 

James’s response, not surprisingly I guess, is coming from ego. He was embarrassed, understandably. When your mistakes are exposed, it’s embarrassing, I get that. It’s a human response. It’s also human to transition from embarrassment into anger. James started with anger over eggs, got embarrassed, and is now back to anger and now indignation. The subtext of his “it’s beneath all of us” comment is basically “how dare you”. After calling the staff at Balthazar and Keith McNally a liar. 


And the thing about Keith McNally is that, well, he’s kind of a famewhore in his own right, as evidenced by all of his Instagramming this week about James. Not the kind of person you want to be messing with if you want a story to go away. Like clockwork, Keith has updated his Instagram with his reaction to James’s NYT interview: 

So, no, the story isn’t going away. James has just given Keith an excuse to breathe more fire into it. And Keith has taken full advantage of the situation to let us all know that James has yet to apologise to the two servers he supposedly was abusive to. And all this on top of all the anecdotes that have been coming out this week about what a prick he is, including from a member of the Try Guys Universe


Strategically, probably not the best way to handle the situation?! And I’m not sure “silly” is the way to describe a situation in which you’ve been accused of dunking your privilege on hospitality workers. Definitely not when your whole brand is all about how nice you are. James sounds haughty in this interview – and that, too, is off-brand. 

What’s frustrating is that there was a simple and easy way to do this and he and his team chose not to. And they’re supposed to be media professionals. All he needed to say was something along the lines of, “I regret that I behaved badly and I’ve spoken to the people involved and beyond that, I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss it publicly”. Nothing to criticise there. Or, if he wanted to stick to his position and not admit fault, he could have abbreviated even that and said, “I’ve spoken to the people involved, and said what needed to be said, and beyond that I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss it publicly”, which would pretty much line up with what Keith initially confirmed when he posted on Instagram that James called him and “apologised profusely”. 

Then again… maybe he was saving it for the cameras. And maybe on camera, he’ll address it with humour and grace, thanks to his writers who’ll have to do the work of making him sound gracious and non-combative, and at the end we’ll all be invited in for a group hug. Because as he told the NYT, he might have to talk about it on Monday. So I guess we’ll still be here on Monday, at which point it’ll be a week since the story broke, just as it was starting to go away.