Not Fane! The headline screamed. Now those of us that know and love Dave Fane are more than aware that his style of comedy is, to say the least, confrontational. One of my earliest memories of Dave was him standing on a stage at a fringe festival opening party holding a noose and asking loudly into the microphone “which one of you niggers wants to get hung?” That was almost fifteen years ago I think. So was I surprised when he hit the front pages of national news(sic)paper with his comments? No I wasn’t but I did think it must’ve been a slow news day. It was a public lynching! And Dave was the darkie being hung.
Dave is a warm, wonderful and very funny man. He’s a man who loves his Mum. He’s also a comedian. He’s a joker who has been testing the limits of comedy for many years now. He has created and voiced some of the best-loved characters on Bro Town - a New Zealand TV show that is actually funny. Characters that make merciless fun of Samoan, Maroi, Chinese and Indian stereotypes. Did anyone complain then? No we were too busy laughing. A couple of those characters are actually gay. Rodney McCorkenstein-Taifule is a sympathetic well-rounded character and much of his humor doesn’t rely solely on his homosexuality. In fact his friends blindly accept his sexuality and it’s not an issue.
Yes HIV and genocide are big, serious subjects but we have to be careful about what we make out-of-bounds for comedy. Comedy shouldn’t have limits. I freely admit that there are some subjects that I don’t find funny but here’s what I do - I don’t laugh. It’s that simple. Comedy must test the limits of taste and it must prod the sensitive subjects. That’s its job.
I was recently MC at the Readers and Writers Week. It was my pleasure to introduce many of the speakers over the course of a day. I made a few risque remarks which the audience laughed at. However afterwards a woman came backstage at the Aotea Centre (no easy task it’s a warren of hallways) and found me. She was middle-aged with her hair pulled back into a tight bun, pursed lips and librarian glasses. She asked me if I was the MC and then proceeded to tell me that I was offensive. Not what I said but me personally. She went out of her way to give me negative feedback. There were fourteen year old girls in the audience she explained. What did I say? Did I expose myself to them? No what offended her was I said “Writing a book is much like making love to a beautiful woman, you have to know exactly where to stick your bookmark.” I didn’t drop a c-bomb or a f-bomb. I was introducing Charlie Higson and was rifting on a comedy character he created called “Swiss Tony” a man who equated everything to “making love to a beautiful woman”. Far out. Luckily I didn’t make the front page of the paper. At the time I didn’t have any witty come-back when she called me offensive but I realised that what I should’ve said was “Yes I am now fuck off you bitch!”
Here in New Zealand we have a sector of our community that are quick to be outraged. But the sad fact is that pinched-lipped woman probably enjoys licking peanut butter off shaved basset hounds in the privacy of her own home. The people who are so outraged by Mr Fane’s comments no doubt dress up in Nazi uniforms at home and pray to god to wipe the homosexual blight from our shores.
Dave isn’t a hater. His humor brings the haters into sharp focus. What’s more his comments were taken out of context. And he’s said sorry. So leave the guy alone and a word to our nation publications - go and find some real news you lazy hacks.