Nikki Osborne says having a speaking engagement cancelled is a freedom of speech issue. (Instagram: nikkiosborneofficial)
Brisbane performer Nikki Osborne has been dumped from speaking at a disability expo because her stand-up comedy routine makes light of what it is like to be a parent of an autistic child.
Ms Osborne faced a backlash even before the act’s debut performance.
She said her comedy routine On The Spectrum is about how parents handle children who can be both brilliant and challenged at the same time.
“My show is about the irony of these milestones we set up for kids, the norm, and how these kids are achieving all these other things that are really quite phenomenal, but because it’s not normal we’ll all have big conniptions and panic attacks,” she explained.
Ms Osborne’s stand-up routine about autism debuted at the Melbourne Comedy festival.
But she said it was slammed based on the advertising posters alone.
“It was somewhat amusing that people are petitioning to have a show that they know nothing about removed from the festival, purely based on the poster,” Ms Osborne told AM.
She was later invited to speak at the Source Kids Disability Expo in Brisbane in July, but says people started defaming her and the organisers.
“As a result I was unceremoniously dumped by email, just going: Oh, we’ve copped a lot of flak, see ya.
“And I was like, oh, alright, there goes freedom of speech.”
Making jokes about autism not appreciated
The CEO of Source Kids, Emma Price, declined to be interviewed but in a statement said:
“Source Kids is a not-for-profit organisation and our intention is to deliver a disability expo for everyone in the disability community.
“The response from our audience in announcing Nikki as a speaker made it clear that her presence would prevent some members of this community from attending.
“Unfortunately Source Kids has borne the brunt of a debate that has now become about the content of Nikki’s show, which is an entirely separate matter from our expo.”
Nicole Rogerson, CEO of Autism Awareness Australia, understands where Nikki Osborne’s comedy is coming from.
“As an autism mum, there are times over the years that have been very humorous, and good luck to you if you can laugh with it; I’ve always tried to,” she said.
But Ms Rogerson sees the other side, too.
“For some people on the autism spectrum, they don’t really appreciate people making jokes about them,” Ms Rogerson said.
“I can see all of the sides and it’s just unfortunate because it could have been a great awareness moment, but hey, I guess we’re talking about it this morning, aren’t we?”
Nikki Osborne says the ordeal has given her fresh material.
“The next one’s already half written itself — PC Gone Mad, I think that’s what it’ll be called.”