Chris Taylor has opened up about the guilt and fear he felt after penning the Chaser’s 2009 sketch, The Make A Realistic Wish Foundation, which caused nationwide condemnation, including from Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.
The writer and satirist, currently starring on Would I Lie To You on Channel 10, said he never intended to put his fellow castmates or production staff in harm’s way and was forced to relocate in the days after the sketch aired.
“We had security outside of houses. I relocated. I went to live with my parents.
“There was a journo on 2GB who gave out our addresses almost with an invitation ‘to do with them what you want’. For telling a joke. For writing a sketch.”
The sketch, in which children playing terminally ill patients were told their Make-a-Wish-style requests were excessive, was lambasted by Mr Rudd as “wrong” and he told the Chaser team that they should “hang their heads in shame.”
“I just felt sick,” said Taylor.
“Especially cause I'd written it. And I was in it and I just felt like I’d let down the whole production office. Because they all had targets on their back. I felt really bad for the actors in that particular piece that were kids.
"They couldn't go to school for two weeks. I mean, talking about it now, it feels like the most absurd overreaction, and I I'm sure it was, but it was very real at the time.
“So, it was hideous, to be honest. It was an absolutely awful, awful period. It always upsets us when there’s a sort of a narrative around any, any comedians who court outrage.
"No one I know in (The Chaser) team ever sets out to offend. It's not the end game to cause hurt or misery or anger.
"You get into comedy, as you know, to entertain and hopefully bring some light relief into an otherwise miserable world."
“And so, yeah, you don't, you never court that. And when it comes, it's death in the family type stuff.”
Taylor said the controversial sketch resulted in the team becoming “safer” and second guessing their material.
“There was no question we'd gone through a shitstorm and it changed our behaviour as writers afterwards,” he said.
“We didn't put things to air that we otherwise would have, had we not gone through that.
"Everyone was just a little bit gun shy. Everyone was just a little bit safer.
"Which is the worst thing for a comedy team to ever be, especially a comedy team, like The Chaser, whose entire brand was to be un-safe and to always test the limits of acceptable conduct and wrong humour and black humour.”
Here's the sketch
And some of the reaction, captured in the Media Watch segment.
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