HIS cruise ship gigs were cancelled, he underwent testicular cancer treatment mid-lockdown, then was the subject of Covid-related “fake news” in China: It’s been an eventful pandemic for Michael Shafar.
The Melbourne-based comic usually watches the news to find things to poke fun at and keep an eye on the border closure situation, but he himself got wrapped up in a fake news affair in November.
“I posted a joke on Tik Tok about a guy on Facebook selling a fake arm to people who didn’t want to be vaccinated,” Shafar tells us.
Shortly afterwards the Daily Mail ran an article with the headline “Anti-vaxxer is spotted selling prosthetic arms ‘in various skin colours’ on Facebook for $1,500 so Aussies can FAKE getting the Covid vaccine” and a picture of Shafar next to the arm.
The story’s text clarified Shafar was just joking about the seller, but something was lost in translation when a Chinese news source picked up the yarn and then some extra embellishment was added on top.
Shafar, who’s triple-vaxxed himself, says “a friend of mine who’s Chinese said ‘you’re going viral on WeChat’, China’s social media page.
“He sends me this article that’s going around China, and it’s my video, they’ve taken screenshots.”
The article’s text translates as “the live broadcast of Melbourne’s well-known internet celebrity Michael Shafar caused a sensation. He sells a prosthetic arm that looks realistic, each selling for up to 1,500 Australian dollars.
“Some people who watched the live broadcast immediately placed the order, and many of them were normal people with sound limbs”.
Shafar says the error is easy to spot: “They accidentally called me a celebrity, which is false. I’ve never been on Dancing with the Stars or Big Brother.”
Shafar’s heading here for Fringe and says “this is the fourth time I’ve tried to get this show to Perth,” with his first performance scheduled for the day of the border opening on February 5.
He reckons Perth’s a safer option for comedy than returning to his old gigs on cruise ships: “My agent called me recently, and said the cruises are going to be back this year, do you want to get back out there? I felt like a nuclear scientist being asked to return to Chernobyl.”
Shafar’s new show 110% – featuring thoughts on how to stop Covid, fix climate change, and fold a fitted sheet – runs February 5 to 13 at The Little Palais at the Pleasure Garden and February 11 and 12 at the Fremantle Comedy Factory, bookings via fringeworld.com.au