When comedy goes too far …

bin Laden Everybody loves a joke … well, except when they don’t. In all honesty, its hard to believe that the people who came up with this idea truly didn’t see the potential for chaos and problems. In today’s world, its very hard to imagine anyone thinking that security personnel guarding a major international conference will have ANY sense of humour at all regarding potential security breaches, but that seems to be the excuse given by members of Australia’s ABC TV program, The Chaser.

Working on a segment entitled “The Chaser’s War on Everything,” a fake motorcade of 3 cars and 11 people made it through two security checkpoints in Sydney, Australia, home of this year’s APEC summit. Using Canadian flags on their vehicles, but sporting passes that, with phrases like “joke,” “Insecurity” and “It’s pretty obvious this isn’t a real pass,” were clearly invalid, the comedy team made it deep into the security zone. They were only finally arrested after one of their members jumped out of the motorcade dressed as Osama bin Laden. 11 team members were arrested, and later released on bail, after the incident.

While its hard to imagine that members of the Chaser team didn’t predict this sort of reaction, its worth noting that the incident seems to point at a gaping hole in the APEC security cordon. Beyond the “official” looking nature of the motorcade, there seems nothing about the team that should have passed even a cursory glance. I am unsure whether “Osama” was in the vehicle for the entire trip, or whether it was a costume donned just before he exited the vehicle, but the simple fact that the security passes used were so obviously fake should raise alarm bells for those in charge of security.

Overall, it must be an embarrassing incident for security officials in charge of APEC, as its a clear breach. But at the same time, its hard for me to view the stunt as “comedy” either, from the point of view of the team that put it together. It seems pretty clear to me that what they did sin’t comedy at all, but a clear breach of public security at an important event. Jokes like this are about as funny as yelling bomb at an airport check-in counter … there are clear and obvious consequences to your action that aren’t terribly funny, and should be easily predictable. Comedy can go to far … this stunt strikes me as pushing the boundaries just a little too much. Comedy is about pushing boundaries, and it is about flouting conventions, but there are also obvious lines that, when crossed, have clear consequences … this was one of those lines.

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