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Is Ben Cousins out of bounds in comedy?

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Was I being too sensitive when cult TV comedian Tom Gleeson tackled AFL golden boy Chris Judd in a one on one - using fallen former teammate Ben Cousins as a punchline?

I confess, I'm a major Tom Gleeson fan. His pull-no-punches Hard Chat segment on The Weekly with Charlie Pickering is something I look forward to (Wednesdays, 8.30pm, ABC) .

It's a segment that sees Australian celebrities interviewed "hard" by the irreverent Gleeson - and is the comedic version of having a blow-torch applied to their egos.

Some fare well, enjoying the verbal joust-fest. Others, like morning TV host Karl Stefanovic and former PM Kevin Rudd, try too hard and burn.

Hard Chat: Chris Judd

Gleeson's recent grilling of a surprisingly self-deprecating Grant Denyer had me snorting hot Milo out my nose, with Gleeson deadpanning: "You hosted Australia's Got Talent ... do you think by getting you to host it, the producers were being ironic?"


Nothing is off limits.

Which brings me to this week's segment.

In the hot seat was footballer Chris Judd, the two-time Brownlow medallist, six-time All Australian player and captain of 2006 premiers West Coast. It was when a now-hopelessly addicted Ben Cousins, and a very toxic recreational drug culture, were developing a stranglehold on the club.

Why Judd chose to throw himself in Gleeson's firing line is anyone's guess. And Gleeson was taking no prisoners.

For instance:

“Can you tell Ben Cousins to get his s*** together so we can tell jokes about him again,” Gleeson stated. 

Judd responded: “It’s a bit hard to get onto Ben at the minute. He’s got a few prior engagements”.

I dunno, but is it right to crack jokes at someone's expense when they are sitting in a jail cell in the middle of the battle of their life, likely for their life (having also caused so much suffering to their family, children and loved ones)? 

The fallen football star is incredibly ill - in jail largely in part because of his 8-gram-a-day methamphetamine habit - and he was not on the show to defend himself.

Judd was.

Hard Chat: Grant Denyer

Gleeson's next line of questioning also made for uncomfortable viewing, but this was purely because it was designed to make Judd squirm. This one directly related to when Judd was captain of the club and, by all accounts, should have had a very good idea of what was taking place among players out of hours.

It was a fair call, I reckon, when Gleeson asked Judd  “how many grams” the Eagles won by when they celebrated their 2006 premiership at a West Coast 10-year premiership reunion recently.

He responded: “That’s a cheap shot, Tom. A real cheap shot”.

Funny, that he didn't protest on behalf of a fallen teammate who was not there to defend himself.

That's not good sport!

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