Melbourne is the home of amazing comedy (hello, MICF) and an oft-differing identity from the majority of Australia (read: Adam Bandt and Daniel Andrews kicking social/political butt). But that begs the question: As a nation, who are we?
Just a day after a poll was announced with the result that 49% of Australians want a ban on Muslim immigration, in a country where One Nation and Pauline Hanson actually got into senate, and where our government is keen as heck to fund 7.5 million into a hate campaign against queer people getting married, Australia is in the midst of a pretty damn frightening time – especially if you’re anything other than a straight white rich Christian guy.
Enter the ‘Who the Bloody Hell Are We’ comedy show at the Athaneum, with over 800 folks all ready to see some identity-exploring funniness. Organised by the wonderful Australian Aid, people were able to receive free tickets by simply emailing their local MP and inviting them along as their plus one. (Hi, David Feeney, thanks for showing up!).
12 comedians took it in turns exploring their view and version of what this country is. Shiralee Hood had the perfect metaphor that white Australia was essentially like someone stealing your car from your driveway, only to return a few weeks (or centuries) later and saying, ‘Oh we’re really sorry we stole your car’ before driving off in it once more. Busty Beatz reminded us not to touch other people’s hair (really, stop it). Osamah Sami told us the joys of being multilingual on public transport. And Umit Bali taught us a thing or two about the dangers and benefits of bringing chutney through customs.
The amazing AUSLAN interpreters were also their own act, teaching me some nice words (I’m now aware of how to say dickhead), and constantly getting roped in to people’s acts as they repeated words for the comedy effect of having them acted out. (Spoiler alert: a bunch of words are just spelled out.)
The entire night was one of glorious laughter with so many political jabs that had the audience applauding, and at half time we all went outside and tweeted the lovely Mr. Turnbull with some recommendations on how the country could improve its current humanitarian crisis (#whoarewe).
Now to wait and see his response.
Jasmin Ashton is a PR nerd and writer/designer with feelings about pretty much everything. Find them at @Jasmanna.
Visit www.australianaid.org for more information on how you can help end extreme poverty and just generally be a better citizen and person.