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Tom Ballard 'sorry' for Hitlergag

Triple J host Tom Ballard has apologised following an “inappropriate” Holocaust-related joke on yesterday’s breakfast show.

Joined by former Spicks and Specks presenter Alan Brough, Ballard and co-host Alex Dyson took part in a game called “Six Degrees of Hitleration”, which involves linking objects to Hitler in just six steps. The game is part of Brough’s “satirical politics quiz”, which has been running at Bella Union in Melbourne each Friday in August.

Ballard was tasked with connecting Hitler to wind farms, which he did using the example of fan-forced ovens, which in turn connected to the ovens Hitler used to incinerate victims during the Holocaust. The segment, and Ballard’s gag in particular, was roundly criticised on triple j’s Facebook page.

“I’m disgusted, sickened, saddened and mad as hell at JJJ who, this morning for laughs, played a game linking objects to Hitler,” wrote one irate listener, later suggesting that Ballard visit the Holocaust Centre in the Melbourne suburb of Elsternwick. Another said that “Hitler’s rampage and slaughter of six million people is NOTHING TO JOKE about”.

But while Ballard’s response to the feedback was initially dismissive – “Dude, if you don’t like the show, just don’t listen. It’s profoundly easy,” he wrote to one listener on Twitter – the presenter has since apologised for the joke.

“I’m very sorry that on my breakfast radio program, I offended and upset a lot of people,” read a statement from Ballard issued to media today. “That’s not what I like doing; I like making people laugh and I like making people happy. I never set out to vindictively offend or belittle anyone or any group with my comedy, that’s not what I’m about. I sincerely apologize that’s how I came across in this instance.”

Ballard’s apology has also been reiterated by triple j this afternoon: “On Thursday morning’s breakfast show, some comments were made by a triple j presenter in relation to Hitler that have received a negative reaction. Further to our post yesterday on Facebook, triple j takes all complaints seriously. We recognise the concerns regarding the comments are serious. triple j agrees the comments made were inappropriate. The matter has been followed up with the Breakfast team. triple j regrets the matter and apologises unreservedly for any offence caused.”

Comments

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hellboy1975

hellboy1975 said on the 10th Aug, 2012

was it a good joke? i don't buy into the whole hitler jokes are never funny argument.

random_hero

random_hero said on the 10th Aug, 2012

he is the same douche that thinks rape jokes are acceptable

i wonder what his reaction would be if someone made a gay joke while he was around

benherman

benherman said on the 10th Aug, 2012

was listening to some of it and was surprised that it wasn't flagged before they aired. stupid idea of course its gonna offend a lot of ppl, ok for commercial radio with sponsors, but for government media pretty poor representation.

tyler07

tyler07 said on the 10th Aug, 2012

Honestly, both of these dudes are such fuckwits. I really do not see the appeal whatsoever.

sarcasm_mister

sarcasm_mister said on the 10th Aug, 2012

a piece from SMH opinion section

Defending Holocaust humour, my fool's errand

by
Ben Pobjie


One can't help but feel a certain amount of trepidation when embarking on the fool's errand of coming to the defence of jokes about the Holocaust. It's not a position likely to gain you the moral high ground in many people's eyes. But still, after reading Dvir Abramovich's attack on Triple J's Tom and Alex, I felt compelled to at least make a few points in defence of my comedic brethren.

Now Dvir Abramovich, of course, is a man for whom this is a very personal issue, and who, rightfully, devotes himself to fighting against any attempts to diminish or trivialise the suffering caused by the Nazis. I could, at this point, go on at length about how I myself have no wish to do so, and how I am vehemently opposed to anti-Semitism and fully cognisant of the horrors of the Holocaust and so forth. But it seems that this should really go without saying. The genuinely lunatic fringe aside, I think there's a default assumption in our society that we're all pretty much on the same page when it comes to Nazis: do I need to explicitly state that I'm not pro-Nazi? And if someone out there thought I was, would my stating otherwise make any difference anyway?

So we're agreed – we all hate the Nazis, and let's move on. But the fact is, Abramovich wasn't attacking Tom and Alex for liking the Nazis, he was attacking them for making jokes about them. And in fact, he goes further: Abramovich wrote: "Maybe Tom and Alex can explain to us what is remotely funny about the gassing of millions of men, women and children and the burning of their bodies?"

And here we come to the crux of the matter, and where I must take issue with Abramovich's analysis. For he has made use of the common misdirection of the offended: the claim that someone who makes a joke about a certain subject is, by definition, making a claim that that subject is itself funny.

It's an easy tactic to fall for, because those who use it are, generally, people standing up for "the right thing", and because on the face of it, it seems obviously true: jokes are funny, a comedian's job is to make jokes about funny things, so clearly, the things a comedian makes jokes about must be funny things.

This is not only a misunderstanding of comedy, it's a misunderstanding which anyone who has actually consumed any comedy in their lives will see through with but a moment's thought. Comedians don't tell us about things that are funny: they take things that aren't funny and try to make them so. As a matter of fact, if the only things we could joke about were things that were already funny, comedy wouldn't even exist – there'd be no point in making jokes if everything we made jokes about was funny to begin with.

It's not difficult to see the truth of this: Abramovich notes that the Holocaust isn't funny, but what subject of the most popular comedy is? Running a hotel isn't funny, but Fawlty Towers was. A paper-goods office isn't funny, but The Office is. A full-grown man caring for his senile mother sure as hell isn't funny, but Mother and Son was known to raise the odd chortle in its time. None of these comedies – or a thousand others that could be names – are about "things that are funny". They are funny because of the way serious subjects are treated, not because they avoided serious subjects entirely.

So, sure, you can say, but the Holocaust is a special case – it's not just a serious subject, it is THE serious subject. The number one, gold-standard, unchallenged champion of Stuff We Do Not Take Lightly. Even, for example, Blackadder's take on World War One, or Carry On making merry with the French Revolution surely can't compare to mocking such horror? OK, so let's look at the idea of Holocaust comedy. Let's look at, for example, Ernst Lubitsch's To Be Or Not To Be, a movie that poked fun at the Nazis while World War Two was still raging. Let's look at Dad's Army, or Allo Allo, or Hogan's Heroes. In fact, if you want a ban on Nazi humour, you're going to have to crack down on a vast range of comedy, from Mel Brooks to Saturday Night Live to Jerry Seinfeld to Monty Python to The Simpsons to Quentin Tarantino. That's a lot of people for Dvir Abramovich to tell to "grow up". And although the funniness, good taste, and level of offensiveness of all the above will vary, and everyone will have their own opinion on just how worthwhile the humour is, I am entirely confident that nobody involved in the comedy I've mentioned could ever be said to hold a belief that the Holocaust was funny, or insignificant, or not a serious matter.

This is not, I stress, and I stress in the strongest possible terms in the hopes I can make my meaning entirely clear – this is not an attempt to declare comedic open slather, or to say everyone has a free pass to make any joke on any subject without fear of rebuke. Of course not. There are plenty of genuinely offensive jokes, racist jokes, sexist jokes, homophobic jokes, and just plain nasty jokes. They're all around us, and it would be a fool who claims "I'm joking" is a cure-all for any and all offence taken. Whether Alex and Tom's Hitler bit fell into the category of offensive or hurtful is for each individual to judge, and if you are offended by it, so be it. Some comedy really is beyond the pale, and while I'll stand up against it being censored, I won't claim it's all just good clean fun.

But if you want to condemn a comedian, or comedians, for material that you say is unacceptable, to declare an outrage against human decency, you're going to need an argument more sophisticated and convincing than, "some things aren't funny".

Because most things aren't funny, and joking about them has nothing to do with claiming they are. Real life isn't funny. It's boring, and sad, and frustrating, and so often it makes your heart want to break. That's why we have comedians in the first place – not to point out what's funny, but to make the stuff that's not funny at all a little easier to bear.

And sometimes, let's be honest, it doesn't work. But that doesn't mean we have to stop them from trying.

loungefly81

loungefly81 said on the 10th Aug, 2012

people still listen to triple j? they have as much credibility as chris brown

Jimmyopendoors

Jimmyopendoors said on the 10th Aug, 2012

ballard and the doctor should co host the graveyard shift together. rubbish radio.

billymumphrey

billymumphrey said on the 11th Aug, 2012

"after the online outcry on two fronts yesterday we were left with one obvious solution, we're very happy to announce we're replacing tom ballard with david irving as the new host of the triple j morning show, effective immediately. david is looking forward to collecting his "government paid wages", with his "left wing conservative" co-workers. when asked for comment, tom ballard said "triple j can go f**k themselves"

grattan

grattan said on the 11th Aug, 2012

Apology from triple j - On Thursday morning’s breakfast show, some comments were made by a triple j presenter in relation to Hitler that have received a negative reaction. Further to our post yesterday on facebook, triple j takes all complaints seriously. We recognise the concerns regarding the comments are serious. triple j agrees the comments made were inappropriate. The matter has been followed up with the Breakfast team. triple j regrets the matter and apologises unreservedly for any offence caused.

retrovertigo

retrovertigo said on the 11th Aug, 2012

he's not funny to begin with. his shtick is merely to make "shocking" statements about whatever - and put on that "i'm taking a massive shit right now" voice.

crob

crob said on the 11th Aug, 2012

can we get a fl poll on who gives a shit wt these tards say.....

tyler07

tyler07 said on the 12th Aug, 2012

I'd like to hear Andrew Stockdale's opinion on this.

Lucan

Lucan said on the 12th Aug, 2012

Does Alan Brough gets away with it because he's a nice guy otherwise?

crob

crob said on the 12th Aug, 2012

surprised this hasn't been said

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh2sWSVRrmo

lateleigh

lateleigh said on the 13th Aug, 2012

Wow, it sounds like JJJ are heading even more into commercial radio territory. This is a Kyle Sandilands joke for sure! I hate political correctness, but I also hate how radio broadcasting has become the playground of morons.

nos235

nos235 said on the 13th Aug, 2012

Who said Hitler isn't funny....

http://cdn2.holytaco.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/black_hitler.jpg

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 13th Aug, 2012

Hittler 'sorry' for Tom Ballard

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo said on the 13th Aug, 2012



So we should let people make poor jokes about the holocaust on a national radio station?

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 13th Aug, 2012

What's worse is they followed it up with a track by Skrewdriver and then Hatebreed.

Tom Ballard later apologised to Hatebreed.

nos235

nos235 said on the 13th Aug, 2012

when it comes to freedom of speech - the question is was the statement hate speech or vilification in any way or was it used in a satirical/comedic sense. We aren't to judge the speech by it's comedic effect, we are to judge it by it's intent. If the intent was to enflame, enrage, divide etc then yes we should censor, but in any other situation, regardless of how we feel about it, the answer is no. You cannot allow a thin edge of the wedge in under any circumstances no matter how 'special' they seem to any group. Baby and the bath water and all that chap.

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo said on the 13th Aug, 2012

Look I think we should just bite the bullet and ditch tom and alex and bring in Frankie Boyle to offend as many people as possible

Braveheart81

Braveheart81 said on the 13th Aug, 2012



I agree that this sort of thing shouldn't be censored but I also think that Ballard and Triple J were correct in apologising for it.

I think it's perfectly acceptable to make jokes regarding controversial subject matter but I also think that if the outcome is plainly not funny and causes widespread offence then you should apologise for it.

Comedians are taking a risk by flying close too the sun in approaching taboo subject matter and need to be prepared for the inevitable backlash if they get it wrong.

nos235

nos235 said on the 13th Aug, 2012

Apologizing for poor taste is just good manners. That should just be expected. But we should never take away the ability to make the mistake that needs an apology (via censorship, banned topics and other orwellian tactics) if you know what I mean.

Napoleon Solo

Napoleon Solo said on the 13th Aug, 2012

I agree that this sort of thing shouldn't be censored but I also think that Ballard and Triple J were correct in apologising for it.

I think it's perfectly acceptable to make jokes regarding controversial subject matter but I also think that if the outcome is plainly not funny and causes widespread offence then you should apologise for it.

Comedians are taking a risk by flying close too the sun in approaching taboo subject matter and need to be prepared for the inevitable backlash if they get it wrong.

I totally agree.

I have made terrible jokes in the past but I know my audience. There is no way in the world I could repeat one of my poor taste jokes on a national stage.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 14th Aug, 2012

No, i'll stay in the present, thanks.