You may have remembered an explosive moment from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival last year, when a comedian Ray Badran, came under fire for telling a rape “joke”.
That joke was:
“So you know how gay people can make jokes about being gay, and black people can make jokes about being black, well, I can make jokes about rape.”
Audience member, Cecelia Devlin objected to Badran’s comments, slid under the table to stage a silent protest, before Badran walked off stage, and said to her, ‘Good on you for taking a stand, but you’re a piece of sh*t and I hope you die’.
You can find out more about her experience in the piece she wrote at the time for Mamamia here.
What followed next was heated conflict, prolific international media coverage, and Badran receiving stream of abuse online, as well as his mother allegedly receiving abuse down the phone from strangers.
He isn't the first comedian to make a joke about rape, and he won't be the last. And the controversy that followed his joke is a reflection of how complex one little question can be, that is, are there some things you just can't joke about?
Meshel Laurie wants answers this week on The Nitty Gritty Committee. (Post continues after audio.)
"Maybe it's like that dress that was all over the internet, where it was like 'is it white and black or is it blue and gold?' I'm just like, but isn't he saying 'I'm a rapist, so I can tell jokes about rape?'" Meshel says.
Can joking about rape ever be funny? Are there good rape jokes and bad rape jokes? Perhaps the only people who can truly answer that question, are the victims of rape themselves, which is why Meshel spoke to Peter Blenkiron, who was raped by a Christian brother when he was 11 years old in Ballarat, repeatedly, and is currently very active in the community in trying assist other survivors.
He says, it is a multilayered question, that has multilayered answers.
And one of those answers is that sometimes it is okay. Because he needs humour to cope. To survive.
"There's times when Andrew Collins [another victim of rape growing up in Ballarat] and I joke about it between the two of us, 'We've got half a brain' - that's a PTSD joke....if it wasn't for the humour, if we couldn't lace a little bit of dark humour around it, you'd go crazy. You really would." he says.