Melbourne: A dose of misogyny from crude, rude, unattractive, never amusing comedian Peter Hellier Print E-mail

The Age ~~ Melbourne ~~ Tuesday July 3 2007

Apology urged over 'cheap, cruel' joke

Comedian Peter Hellier (Photo: Simon Schluter)

Rove comedian Peter Helliar has been urged to publicly apologise to hepatitis sufferers for making light of the disease with a "cheap, cruel" joke.

Hepatitis Australia said it was offended by an on-air witticism in which Helliar joked about giving hepatitis C to Pamela Anderson for her 40th birthday.

In a segment of the Sunday night comedy show Rove, the comedian asked what would be the best present for the former Baywatch star, who has everything.

"Hepatitis, oh wait, she already got that last year," Helliar said on the program.

Hepatitis Australia chief executive Helen Tyrrell said the "irresponsible" comment was a cruel and discriminatory attempt at humour.

"Many of the 260,000 Australians affected by hepatitis C already experience stigma and discrimination on a regular basis, and ignorant 'comedy' like this only adds to the pain," Ms Tyrrell said.

She said she doubted the show would have featured a similar joke about giving a celebrity a gift of HIV/AIDS.

"But for some reason they think it's acceptable to seek cheap laughs at the expense of people living with hepatitis C," Ms Tyrrell said.

"The fact is it's not acceptable, and we call on Peter Helliar to issue a public apology for his insensitive and ignorant remarks."

Comment was being sought from producers of Rove.