PERTH comic Sean Conway has apologised and paid $2000 to fellow comic Jimmy Kuratz over an attempted joke on social media after the latter complained he had been defamed.
Conway had posted to a 30-odd member Facebook group created in the build-up to last December’s Flying Camel comedy awards at the Bassendean Hotel.
But Kuratz (the stage name of Jeremy Giuntini) says he didn’t consider the post a joke at all, describing it as a “serious allegation”. He had his lawyer send a “concerns notice” to Conway outlining his complaint and seeking redress.
Conway agreed to pen an apology stating an allegation in the post was untrue and to not repeat it.
“This has been a pretty stressful couple of months, and I’m not allowed to talk about it,” Conway posted on Facebook on Tuesday.
Fellow comedian Craig Quartermaine started a Gofundme page to help out Conway, who runs the Canned Comedy charity food collection nights at the Comedy Lounge and other local venues.
“Despite it being constantly under strain and doomed to inevitably be drowned in Monster Energy drink, Sean’s heart is huge and caring,” Quartermaine wrote.
Comedians and friends rallied around and hit the $3000 target in half a day, covering the settlement plus Conway’s own legal bill.
The Arts Law Centre of Australia says the limits for how far comedians can push their material are “unclear” because of the complex nature of Australia’s defamation laws, but notes people have sued over poems, novels, cartoons, paintings, photographs, artistic criticisms, songs and satire.
“Words obviously intended only as a joke may be reasonably safe, but there may be a problem if there are underlying defamatory facts understood by the audience,” the centre said in a defamation law fact sheet.
It warns social media is rife with defamation, and anyone republishing defamatory comments could also be sued (which is why you won’t be reading what Conway said here).
Kuratz, who co-founded Flying Camel, won gongs for “friendliest comedian” and “game/scene changer” at the awards.
by DAVID BELL