Taboo: black humour with compassion

 

For the last two Thursday’s, I’ve been watching Ten’s controversial show, Taboo.

In the show, stand-up comedian, Harley Breen meets people facing adversity. After getting to know their situation, he uses their experiences as part of his stand-up gig.

This is not the first time he has attempted this. Last year, he did an episode on disability. I wasn’t aware of that.

In the first episode this year, Breen went to the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, to meet terminally ill people:

  • Matt: former infantry soldier who was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour
  • Lauren: cystic fibrosis, osteoporosis, depression and anxiety sufferer.
  • Nicole: new mother who was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer
  • Michael: father of two girls, diagnosed with lung cancer (not caused by smoking).

Matt, Lauren, Nicole and Michael opened up about their diagnoses and how it affected them and their loved ones.

My favourite part was when Breen and the guests started talking about medications they all take. Breen then joked that tgey were all “massive druggies”. I think that worked because the guests cinsented and in on the joke.

There was one joke Breen made that I thought was miscalculated. That was when Breen talked about parents losing terminally ill children. This was after Matt confided in him how much it upset him and indicated that was his personal boundary. I don’t think Breen was being callous, but if I were him, I would have left it out.

 

Breen tackles racism

Last week, Breen tackled racism and prejudice against Muslims.  Breen admitted on Studio 10 that it was the episode that he was nervous about.

This episode was well done; maybe better than the terminal illness episode.

I found this episode more satirical. Breen mocked the attitudes that the guests faced. He tackled intrusive questions, (i.e. ‘where are you from?’) and ostracism that some Muslims face, especially in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

My favourite part of this episode is when Breen tackled cultural differences between himself and Sara. Because of her faith, Sara doesn’t drink alcohol. Breen treated this like a language barrier in his stand up gig.

 

 

My take on the Taboo series so far

Overall, I think Harley Breen should be applauded. I like the way he has seeked consent from and bounced ideas off his guests upon the show.

 

This style of black humour isn’t for everybody. For some, the topics will be too raw and upsetting. Some may think that there are some things that “don’t have funny” in them.

Taboo  dares to test the boundaries of comedy. This is what makes Harley Breen so commendable.

 

The next episode tackles mental illness.

 

Taboo airs Thursday, 8.45pm EST on Win.

 

Have you seen any of the Taboo comedy series? Let me know your thoughts about it in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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