Australian satirist Dan Ilic has been “fired” by Al Jazeera youth network AJ+ for recording an audition for The Daily Show in an Al Jazeera studio.
The former star of ABC TV’s The Hungry Beast, who also founded the Sydney satire radio and live show, A Rational Fear, said he was “annoyed” at the unfortunate outcome given AJ Plus’s great work and his enjoyment working there.
Ilic’s strong work on the network while based in San Francisco as its ‘Senior Satire Producer’ — including some “ballsy” vox pops at the Super Bowl media day resulted in the offer to audition for the next iteration of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, to be hosted by Trevor Noah.
It is believed AJ+’s parent company Al Jazeera was alerted to Ilic recording and editing an audition showreel by himself in an AJ studio and management in Qatar sacked him, despite protests from AJ+ management.
Ilic said he was looking for further opportunities in the US where “super interesting things are happening in media.” In the meantime, he has a couple of months in Sydney where he will look for TV commercial or other work.
He joked, “If I’ve learnt anything during my time at Al Jazeera it’s journalism is not a crime, unless you’re a BBC journalist exposing the deaths of migrant workers during the construction of football stadiums in Doha. Or you use the studio for 40 minutes.”
The dig at his former parent company, the Qatar state-funded broadcaster, follows the arrest last month of a BBC journalist attempting to film the appalling conditions in which migrant workers are attempting to build venues for the contentious 2022 Qatar World Cup. Conversely, Al Jazeera, co-opted global media to help release three of its English employees, including Australian Peter Greste, from Egyptian jail
Hardly earth-shattering news we thought, but not for the reason you might think. What puzzled us wasn’t why it was suddenly big news that a mid-list comedian best known for skilful self-promotion had been fired for being too smart for his own good (though it is a fun story), it was… wait, that was what puzzled us. Only we were puzzled as to the “suddenly” part.
You see, a full two weeks ago someone brought this publicly viewable picture on Instagram to our attention:
(The woman in the picture is a reporter for A Current Affair – not exactly an organisation known for sitting on scoops.)
So Dan got canned at least a fortnight ago, and didn’t seem to be hiding it. Which leaves us wondering: why is this news now? Could it be that someone (maybe even Dan himself) noticed that this particular wacky sacking hadn’t hit the headlines – after all, even we couldn’t be bothered mentioning it – so they put out a press release and everyone jumped on board? And if so… well, we have to salute the master of self-promotion for once again getting his name out there.
Maybe next time it could be attached to something funny?