“A BLEND of socially responsible comedy with cock jokes.”
That’s how Aussie comedian Asher Treleaven describes his new show Matador, a delicately handled and hilarious critique of racism in Australia.
The award winning comedian won’t hold back when he takes to London stages this week and bluntly asks the question: why are Australians a little bit racist?
“At their heart, Australians are very lovely, generous people,” he assures me. “And I’m not from any kind of racial background that would make me a target.
“But there are these really blinkered racial beliefs being nurtured in Australia and it really pisses me off.”
Australia’s hard line on immigration, the prominence of politicians like Pauline Hanson, incidents like the Cronulla riots and even this month’s Ban the Burqa protest have been noticed on the global stage and it’s hard to deny that Australia is building a reputation.
“We’re getting to the stage where we’re becoming known as a racist nation, and it’s just so unfortunate,” he says.
Shocked after watching a teenage girl hurl racial abuse at a taxi driver in a Sydney street, Treleaven set about writing Matador as a way of analysing a person’s responsibilities when they experience racism in their everyday lives.
“I want to write shows that mean something,” he says. “And I wanted to ask the question, ‘why are we a little bit racist and why is it such a hard thing to break?’.”
Matador is a humourous look at racism, xenophobia and bigotry in modern Australia, and Treleaven is interested in the UK’s take on the show.
“I’m excited and nervous but it’s going to be good fun. England is very literate about Australia and what is happening there.”
Although he’s never been afraid to perform the potentially confronting show to Australian audiences, he admits to some nerves about repeating some of the racial slurs he’s heard Aussies say.
“My audience generally isn’t typical Australia so I’ve never been nervous about the reaction from Australians,” he says. “But there have been people in my audience who may have experienced such prejudice directly and I do get nervous about repeating these things in front of them.”
The award-winning comedian is performing at various sold out venues in London this week before heading to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, keen to follow on from last year’s success where he was a nominee for the ‘Best Newcomer’ award.
See Asher Treleaven in Edinburgh from 3 — 28 August.