Click here to see where to celebrate Australia Day in London.
THIS Sunday comedian Felicity Ward will be celebrating her first Australia Day overseas.
Undoubtedly this is probably a wise move considering the growing contention over a national day that is actually on the anniversary of a hostile takeover.
“More recently, like in the last five to ten years, it’s kind of a bit of an ugly day in Australia,” says Ward.
“I have a friend, another comic, and he said he never gets called a fagot more than he does on Australia day.
“And he never experiences more verbal homophobia than he does on Australia Day, which I find really interesting.”
What is the cause of such heightened bigoted behaviour?
Ward thinks it may partly be the fear of being called a ‘wanker’ for being too broad minded and left leaning.
The 2005 Cronulla riots may also be a trigger for such small mindedness, from the high profile coverage that followed.
“You know there used to be something of a throwback to the 80s where it was a little bit retro to wear an Australian T shirt.
“Then after the Cronulla riots it became this symbol of nationalistic pride where ‘if you’re not with us you’re against us’ and that really hardline approach to Australian inclusion that we seem to turn to.”
This is an approach Ward is not unfamiliar with having grown up in a ‘really small’ predominantly white Australian town.
“One of our friends had a Filipino wife; there were a couple of kids who had Italian or Maltese parents; but it was pretty Anglo.
“I remember the first time I heard the phrase ‘Invasion Day’ and my response was, ‘Oh god! Do we have to be so sensitive?’.
“That’s what I thought and that’s because I didn’t want to ever be challenged on my beliefs because I thought my beliefs were true.
“And now, it’s pretty gross; like the idea that we celebrate our nation the day we committed genocide.
“That’s not me being a dirty leftie. That’s the reality of it. It’s pretty insensitive.”
Nowadays Australia Day takes on a rather non-clichéd style for Ward and her friends. So she’s unsure how the expat public exactly intend to celebrate here in London.
“Usually I’m just with my comic mates and we’re all a bit — you know a couple of them will get drunk — but we’re all a pretty friendly bunch.
“We’re all different colours, shapes and sizes.
“There’s no kind of racism or the national pride when I celebrate it with my friends.
“So I don’t really know how other people celebrate it apart from when I’m out on Bondi Beach and there’re twenty guys with zinc and wrap around shades and Australia day T shirts and wearing flags as capes.
“That’s my last public experience with Australia Day, so it will be interesting to see how expats celebrate it over here.”
With the upcoming gig in Clapham for Australia Day, Ward has been pondering the meaning of this national holiday with some serious reflection.
“I’ve been thinking about it a lot the last few days, because I’ve written this new material about going to the cricket — because I love going to the cricket.
“I have this joke where I say, ‘Cricket’s probably our second favourite national pastime in Australia. Can anyone guess what our first one is?’ and someone yelled out ‘Drinking’; and I went, ‘Correct, it’s racism’.
“It got a big laugh and then I followed it up with all this stuff on Asylum seeker policy.
“I don’t know whether to do it on Australia Day. I don’t know if it’s… it is inflammatory. I know it’s inflammatory.
“But there will be a lot of Australian people looking to embrace the homeland I don’t know if I’m going to have the guts to do it.”
To find out whether Felicity Ward has the guts, you’ll have to turn up yourself to the Australia Day Weekender at the Clapham Grand, wrap around shades in hand.
At the least it will provide Ward with content for a busy year staring with pilot season in America; followed by the main Comedy Festivals around Australia; plus plans to prepare 12 minutes of material with no ‘blue content’ for a South African comedy festival.
Check Felicity Ward out. She is outrageous and insightful in equal measure.
The Clapham Grand Australia Day Weekender event.
Date: Saturday 25th January
Time: Doors open 5pm, movie 5.30pm, comedy show 8pm, club night 10pm
Location: 21-25 St John’s Hill, Clapham Junction, SW11 1TT London
Cost: Entry is £17 in advance. Click her to purchase tickets.