A roast that went awry: Fane’s fun folly lands him in hot fat with Jews and AIDS sufferers

This apologising thing is becoming an epidemic.

Alf hears from Radio NZ about some TV and radio performer who reportedly is apologising for making deprecatory remarks about Jews and AIDS of the sort that are apt to get a deprecator into deep trouble among Jews and AIDS sufferers and especially among Jews who happen to be afflicted with AIDS.

But it’s fair to say the impulse to say sorry has not gripped the deprecator’s employers at the The Radio Network and TV3. Last night they were ducking for cover and refusing to apologise, according to the HoS.

In its account of what happened, the HoS refers to the deprecator as a top TV star, although Alf had never actually heard of him, which either reflects badly on Alf’s understanding of who is a star (and how stars differ from celebrities), or of the HoS’s inclination to make celebrities of any old Joe Blow.


This particular Joe Blow is reported to be best known for film and TV roles including Outrageous Fortune, Sione’s Wedding and Radiradirah and as the host of a breakfast show on radio station Flava.

But Outrageous Fortune is a TV series about a certain unattractive species of Aucklander, which immediately is a turn-off for Alf, and he had never heard of anyone called Sione, so did not bother going to the movie. As for Flava, it does not beam its signal into Eketahuna, although maybe you can pick it up there if you try hard, unlike AIDS, which apparently you can pick up without trying too hard at all.

Anyway, the newspaper says:

A top TV star unleashed a racist outburst at a high-profile media event this week – claiming that “Jews were expendable”.

David Fane, one of the creators of bro’Town, told an audience including Jason Gunn, Mike Hosking, Kate Hawkesby and John Tamihere, that “Hitler had a right” and HIV sufferers deserved to be “roasted”.

Fane is reported to have made the tirade on Wednesday night at the inaugural Radio Roast at the exclusive Northern Club in Auckland.

He said: “You are the worst motherf*****s in the world, you agency guys,” referring to advertising bosses in the audience.

He said: “I want to eat you, but I won’t because I don’t want to get HIV. Would you roast an HIV person? You’d roast them because they’re expendable. Like the Jews. Hitler had a right, you know.

“You’ve all got f****** Aids, c****!”

Uh, oh.

This sounds awfully like an attempt at comedy that went sadly wrong.

Alf has never personally attended a “roast”, but he has a rough idea of what these events are supposed to entail.

Here’s how Wikipedia defines it:

A roast, in North American English, is an event in which an individual is subjected to a public presentation of comedic insults, praise, outlandish true and untrue stories, and heartwarming tributes, the implication being that the roastee is able to take the jokes in good humor and not as serious criticism or insult, and therefore, show their good nature.

It is seen as a great honor to be roasted, as the individual is surrounded by friends, fans, and well-wishers, who can receive some of the same treatment as well during the course of the evening.

The party and presentation itself are both referred to as a roast. The host of the event is called the roastmaster. Anyone who is honored in such a way is said to have been “roasted”.

So there you have it.

This roasting business involves comedic insults and outlandish untrue stories, among other things.

The implication is that the roastee is able to take the jokes. But its best that the jokes be funny rather than simply abusive.

And Jews are apt to take great umbrage at comedy of this sort no matter how clever it might be, except when the jokes are made by Jews. And inevitably:

The outburst has sparked outrage in New Zealand’s Jewish community and among Aids health advocates.

New Zealand Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman demanded that Fane and his employers apologise.

He said the speech had parallels to Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic outburst in 2006.

“It is a very anti-Semitic statement,” said Goodman. “While we wish to preserve the rights to freedom of speech he went over the line.”

That’s interesting. There’s a line we might unwittingly cross.

Alf suspects the line is a bit like sites that Maori regard as sacred. Jews won’t tell you where the line is and Maori won’t tell you where the sites are, so you don’t know you’ve crossed the line or dug into a sacred site until shrieks of protest ensue.

Fane has denied being anti-Semitic and came out with the old line that “some of my favourite friends are Jewish”, including film director Taika Waititi.

This was a fascinating observation, because Alf instinctively would have regarded a bloke called Taika Waititi as Maori, but it turns out he has a Jewish mother, which raises complex questions about who is a Jew and who is a Maori.

Fane, it transpires, is a bloke of Samoan descent. He is also a bloke with an uncertain future, Alf suspects.

TRN chief executive John McElhinney told Radio New Zealand he has not been told about Fane’s apology, but says one is necessary.

Mr McElhinney says he will make a public statement about Fane’s future on Monday after meeting Fane and his manager.

As well as being of of Samoan descent, you could say, Fane is toast, which is a perverse outcome for someone who would have thought he was performing at a roast.

One Response to A roast that went awry: Fane’s fun folly lands him in hot fat with Jews and AIDS sufferers

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