Sorry, but ‘Ferry McFerryface’ is a stale, unimaginative insult

Posted November 14, 2017 15:59:43

It’s one thing to hold a competition to name the new Sydney ferry fleet. It was a great idea to allow Sydneysiders to have a bit of fun with silly names.

God knows, we all need a bit of a laugh at the moment (thank you, Canberra).

It is something else altogether for the NSW Government to act on the absurdity, but there’s nothing remotely funny about the chosen name “Ferry McFerryface”.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, “Boaty McBoatface” was the people’s choice but, of course, that was the name the Brits had dubiously chosen last year for a new polar research vessel.

Thankfully, sanity prevailed and the grown-ups in charge opted for the much less frivolous and far more meaningful “Sir David Attenborough”.

No such adult behaviour in Sydney. The otherwise very sensible NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance drank the Kool-Aid.

“Ferry McFerryface will be the harbour’s newest icon, and I hope it brings a smile to the faces of visitors and locals alike,” he declared.

But not only is it a stupid name, the whole “Mc” thing is a bad joke well past its use-by date.

It was mildly amusing a year ago, but as soon as the Swedes (the Swedes!) had their moment of madness with “Trainy McTrainface” we all should have known where this naming fad would end up.

Are we really that unimaginative to plagiarise such a tired, stale concept? The mother country has given us many great things over the centuries. This does not class as one of them.

But it also it detracts from the achievements of the great Australians whose names adorn three of the six new ferries: heart surgeon Victor Chang; ophthalmologist Fred Hollows; and obstetrician Catherine Hamlin.

Just image the “Victor Chang” moored alongside “Ferry McFerryface”. What an insult.

Sydney is full of great people who also deserve to be similarly honoured. What about an Olympian? A war hero? An educator? An artist?

There are arguments about this being a tourism coup and a branding masterstroke, but the whole thing is in danger of becoming an international laughing stock.

This unfamiliar grumpiness will pass but, for the moment, we’re not ferry happy.

Topics: transport, comedy-humour, australia

‘These stories are true’: Louis CK responds to allegations of sexual misconduct

Updated November 11, 2017 06:55:05

US comedian Louis CK has confirmed that allegations against him by several women of sexual misconduct are true and said that he is sorry for his actions.

Key points:

  • Five women detailed sexual misconduct allegations against the comedian, three of them said he had masturbated in front of them
  • Louis CK says “[I] can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them” — read CK’s statement in full
  • CK is among the latest Hollywood figures to be accused of misconduct in recent weeks

“These stories are true,” he said in a statement.

Five women detailed sexual misconduct allegations against the Emmy-winning comedian in a New York Times report published on Thursday (local time), including three women who said he had masturbated in front of them.

CK released his statement after his upcoming film I Love You Daddy was scrapped for release on Friday, and Netflix Inc cancelled a planned special with the comedian because of the allegations.

“I have been remorseful of my actions. And I’ve tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves,” his statement added.

He apologised to the cast and crew of several projects he had been working on, his family, children and friends, his manager and the FX network.

The 438-word statement ends with the comedian vowing to stop talking and leave the spotlight, stating “I will now step back and take a long time to listen”.

The comedian had previously declined comment on the New York Times story and Reuters was unable to independently confirm any of the accusations.

CK is among the latest Hollywood figures to be accused of misconduct in a wave that began when dozens of sexual harassment allegations were reported last month against film mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Louis CK’s full statement:

“I want to address the stories told to the New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not.

“These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my [penis] without asking first, which is also true.

“But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your [penis] isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them.

“The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.

“I have been remorseful of my actions. And I’ve tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions.

“I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position.

“I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in my and their community, which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people who look up to me didn’t want to hear it.

“I didn’t think that I was doing any of that because my position allowed me not to think about it.

“There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with.

“I wish I had reacted to their admiration of me by being a good example to them as a man and given them some guidance as a comedian, including because I admired their work.

“The hardest regret to live with is what you’ve done to hurt someone else. And I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them.

“I’d be remiss to exclude the hurt that I’ve brought on people who I work with and have worked with who’s [sic] professional and personal lives have been impacted by all of this, including projects currently in production: the cast and crew of Better Things, Baskets, The Cops, One Mississippi, and I Love You Daddy [sic].

“I deeply regret that this has brought negative attention to my manager Dave Becky who only tried to mediate a situation that I caused.

“I’ve brought anguish and hardship to the people at FX who have given me so much The Orchard who took a chance on my movie and every other entity that has bet on me through the years.

“I’ve brought pain to my family, my friends, my children and their mother.

“I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.

“Thank you for reading.”


Topics: sexual-offences, law-crime-and-justice, arts-and-entertainment, comedy-film, comedy-humour, united-states

First posted November 11, 2017 06:22:11

Original clown doctor returns to his mime roots

Posted November 04, 2017 10:00:00

Jean-Paul Bell has spent the past couple of decades entertaining children and the elderly in health care facilities.

But at the age of 66, he is returning to the stage and the brand of comedy he first fell in love with.

“I have the urge to go back to the boards, to my comic mime beginnings,” he told ABC Radio Sydney.

“Mime is a universal language.

“We need clowns in this world, and you see how people do it so badly — the current president of the United States [for example].

“You just need professionals to go out and take over again.”

Mr Bell has been an actor and comedian for more than 50 years.

He is most well known for co-founding the Humour Foundation and the Clown Doctors, which celebrated their 20th anniversary earlier this year.

Helping the elderly laugh

Mr Bell also co-founded and has been the creative director of the Arts Health Institute since 2011, which has focused on helping elderly people, particularly those living with dementia, to laugh.

He is stepping down from the role and was farewelled at an open event on Friday.

One insight he has gained from his work at the institute is how creative elderly people with dementia can be, especially with visual arts or dance.

“Dementia is a bit like the word cancer — everyone runs for the exit door or suddenly drops people who have been diagnosed with one or the other,” Mr Bell said.

“Life is meant to be lived and we very often abandon our loved ones into an institution like an aged care facility, without thinking that they still need to live their lives and to do something going forward.

“It’s not all about remembering what you once were or what you did. It’s about what you’re going to do tomorrow when you get up.”

The power of laughter

What Mr Bell will continue bringing to audiences in the next stage of his career is his belief in the healing power of laughter.

He is currently in the midst of preparing a new show called Just Desserts, which is more “vaudeville clown rather than circus clown”.

“I play a character called Astor Mascarpone and he’s definitely a boy of many desserts,” Mr Bell said.

“He’s very round and rotund … the epiphany of home entertainment.”

The “non-verbal” show will premiere at the Woodford Folk Festival on December 26.

Topics: comedy-humour, arts-and-entertainment, health, human-interest, sydney-2000

A head-scarf-wearing Muslim comic finds her voice

Posted September 25, 2017 16:39:03

“No-one expects me to be funny,” Frida Deguise says. “They just expect me to bomb.”

That joke — a staple of the Lebanese-Australian comedian’s routine — tells you a lot about Deguise’s shtick.

Since taking to stand-up in the past few years, Deguise has been building a reputation as Australia’s only hijab-wearing comedian, playing on audiences’ preconceived notions of how a Muslim Australian woman should act.

She spoke to Lateline about stereotypes, what topics are off limits, and how she still feels like a novelty.

She lived in America pre- and post-9/11

When I got there, I never wore the scarf, I had body piercings, I had different coloured hair. And over there are a lot of conservative Lebanese. It was probably one of the best five years of my life. I ended up becoming more religious; I put the scarf on.

[But] we had to leave — it was 9/11, and the world changed on that day. You could see black from white; you could see America go from freedom to death within hours.

Where I was living was the highest Arab population in America. And everyone was scared.

I remember the building where we were living there were 20 Saudi students and within 24 hours they left.

She got into fashion before comedy

I got into fashion and I started selling fashion. I always watched comedy growing up. Even when I was in America – Comedy Central, Def Jam Comedy – and not once ever wanted to be a comedian. And so I would watch comedy day and night. That was my release.

I think after 10 years of being in clothing, I started to go through like a depression, losing my identity. I had to change so many times to fit in — into Australia, into America, into being so many things. I just felt like I was lost and I couldn’t deal with it anymore.

Getting into stand-up gave her freedom

It’s the freedom to say whatever you want. You can’t walk down the street and [say to] some white guy, ‘You’re racist, man’. On stage you can. On stage, I can say whatever I want and you’re there to listen. I think it’s a great way to be vocal about beliefs. It’s a great way to show people that you’re different.

She plays on people’s prejudices

My opening line is, ‘I’ll give you a couple of seconds to stereotype me’. One of the biggest stereotypes is like, can I laugh? ‘She’s Muslim, how can she be funny? Oh my gosh, she’s speaking, who let her speak? She’s now allowed to speak? How can she be out this late, the street lights are on?’ People don’t understand it. What you see on TV is what they believe. They think we’re all ISIS … they think that we’re all into all these terrorists attacks. They got it all wrong.

Straight after a terrorist attack and you get out on stage … you can feel how uncomfortable it is that you’re on stage. So you have to work harder and harder to make sure you change their mind. You know they’re feeling, ‘Mate, what is she doing here’.

Not much is off limits, except God

I don’t talk about God. I don’t talk about any of my prophets or anything like that. I don’t like going into religious jokes. I might say ‘I’m Muslim, I’m this, I’m that’, but I will not bring my religion, my beliefs into it. When an atheist goes out on stage and they make a joke about Jesus … Even though I am a comedian and I laugh about everything I still get insulted.

Nothing else is off limits. I have some dirty jokes — three dirty jokes — but I need those jokes because those jokes are for the people that think I’m just a Muslim girl that’s not allowed to speak. They’re my icebreakers.

She says Australians are still getting used to her style

I think comedy is not very normal in the Arab community. I’ve done stand-up for a few Muslim events or women events and they don’t know how to take it. They’re like, “What is she doing? Is she telling a story?”

You go and perform at a gig and the bouncer is Muslim, they’re all Muslim, what’s the difference? He’s working, I’m working. I do my job and go home. You can’t please everybody. There is always someone with an opinion.

I feel like I’m a novelty and still Australia is not ready for this Muslim comedian. They love the idea of a Muslim comedian — ‘she’s rebelling against their people’ — because that’s what they think, right? I think they enjoy this. But [they think] ‘Where can we put you? We can’t put you in mainstream TV, we can’t see you going on any of the other stations. We’ll keep you there and the next terrorist attack, we’ll give you a call and you can give us your opinion’.

Topics: comedy-humour, religion-and-beliefs, australia

Dating around the world: The good, the bad and the ugly

Posted September 23, 2017 07:00:00

Did you endure a bad date last night? If so, you’re not alone.

Online dating websites and apps like Tinder have opened a portal to an entirely different universe, and single people are going on dates with individuals they’d probably otherwise never meet — or even want to!

It’s perfect comedy fodder, according to Rachman Blake and Elena Gabrielle.

The comedians have spent the past six months travelling the globe getting audiences to share the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to dating.

“It’s like AA for dating,” Blake said of the show.

“I think a lot of people who offer their stories are ones who have been on a bad date from online,” Gabrielle added.

“With online dating, you only get a photo and a little bit of information and nothing else; I think about how my parents got together and it was at the local footy club and they were friends of friends who introduced them together.”

Does dating vary from country to country?

Blake said the show had confirmed that Western countries and cultures approached dating differently to the East.

“Some places are more conservative than others, and some places take the whole idea of getting married and having a family more serious than others,” he said.

“For instance, in the West you’re pretty much on your own when it comes to marriage — you decide, you pick and your parents don’t get too involved.

“But if you go to places like India, a lot of the time the whole family is involved in the decision-making process.”

The most memorable dating stories

Asked which shared story stayed at the forefront of his mind, Blake recalled one nervous Tinder user.

“One of my favourites was this girl who really liked this guy; she was very nervous about the date and wasn’t sure where it would go,” he said.

“She was using Tinder for a while and had always ended up with horror stories, but she was pretty sure this guy was going to be a keeper.

“She did some googling and background checks.

“She found out the guy was one of the descendants of Saddam Hussein — and she just wasn’t ready for that.”

At a recent show in Canberra, audience member Michael Slater was brave enough to share one of his horror stories.

“I once met a girl on Tinder who seemed like a nice girl at first,” he recalled.

“It’s the first date and we’re having a drink in a pub. Under her shirt there was something moving really rapidly. She pulled out a bearded dragon lizard and put it in my face.

“I thought, ‘Hmmm, this has never happened before’.”

Put down your phone

Having heard multiple dating fails, and experienced some of his own, Blake encouraged people to get off their phones if they wanted to be lucky in love.

“Eighty per cent of the stories come from online dating horrors.

“It gives people another reason to get off their phone and not be in front of the screen.

“They need to get a joy out of real life.”

Topics: relationships, comedy-humour, human-interest, canberra-2600

How a Melbourne man opened China’s only comedy club

Posted August 26, 2017 07:30:00

Mainland China may have more than 1.3 billion people, but it only has one stand-up comedy club.

Melbourne-born comedian Andy Curtain started producing comedy shows in bars across China in 2010, and opened Shanghai venue Kung Fu Komedy in 2015.

Comedians such as Chizi, Dandan and Drew Fralick — familiar faces on Chinese television — cut their teeth at shows put on by Curtain and his colleagues.

There were two distinct stand-up scenes in China, Curtain told ABC Radio Melbourne‘s Jacinta Parsons and Sami Shah.

“There’s the English scene and the Chinese scene, and we kind of started both.”

Expats give Chinese outsider perspective

Curtain said that when he and his expat friends started doing comedy shows they “had training wheels on”.

“In comedy the outside perspective is always very interesting,” he said.

“You can come in and point at things that people don’t realise are weird, that they see every day.”

He said the expat community in China “is probably the most multicultural community on Earth”.

“It’s not uncommon to go to a dinner with expats and 10 people are all from different countries.

“There’s this huge shared experience of being a foreigner in China and having no idea what’s going on.

“That’s also interesting to Chinese people because you’re looking at their world through a different lens.”

Podcasts kickstarted stand-up globally

Curtain went to Shanghai in 2009 having finished his law degree at the University of Melbourne 24 hours earlier.

“I just wanted to live overseas and I thought if I don’t move now, when am I going to move?” he said.

Curtain said his arrival coincided with a time when stand-up comedy scenes “started appearing all across the globe”.

“My theory is it’s when comedy podcasting got to a level that people could listen to guys like Bill Burr and Jo Rogan,” he said.

“They were telling the stories of how they started and did terrible shows in bars across Boston.”

He said these podcasts made the idea of trying stand-up more accessible to aspiring comics worldwide.

Financial crisis sparked comic opportunity

Initially, Curtain said, audiences at the shows were mostly expats as they were already familiar with the concept of stand-up.

“There was a slower burn with the Chinese,” he said.

He credits the global financial crisis with bolstering the Chinese audience at his shows.

“People who were getting educated in the US … were finally realising that they had better job opportunities back in China,” he said.

“There was this huge migration of western-educated Chinese people coming back to China.”

This was an audience that had become familiar with stand-up comedy during their time overseas.

“They’d all watched shows in New York and London, so they were able to start filling up our shows.”

Topics: comedy-humour, people, human-interest, melbourne-3000, china

‘I still call Australia home-ophobic’: Tim Minchin releases postal vote protest song

Updated August 11, 2017 18:24:21

Australian comedian and musician Tim Minchin has entered the same-sex marriage postal vote debate with his typical comedic flair.

In a video posted to his Facebook page, Minchin reworks the lyrics to the Peter Allen classic I Still Call Australia Home.

Minchin sings:

I’m always travelling, but wherever I stay

People love Aussies, and they generally say

They think we’re kind, fun and funny

Tall, tanned and toned

And a little bit racist, and a little bit home-ophobic

In a take on another famous verse, Minchin says:

One day we’ll all be together once more

Once they do their bloody jobs, and change the f***ing law

In a written statement at the end of the video, Minchin said he thought the postal vote was “noxious and obnoxious”.

“Polls show that Aussies are overwhelmingly in favour of marriage equality,” he wrote.

“Not that it should matter … it’s not f***ing X-Factor.”

Minchin implored his fans to participate and vote yes, saying those behind the postal vote, “think by making it postal, young people won’t vote”.

“Prove them wrong,” he wrote.

The song was viewed more than 300,000 times and shared almost 20,000 times within three hours of being posted.

Topics: community-and-society, marriage, gays-and-lesbians, music, arts-and-entertainment, comedy-humour, government-and-politics, australia

First posted August 11, 2017 12:37:15