Michael Shafar has beaten cancer twice — and he wants you to know all about it.

Key points:

  • Comedian Michael Shafar was diagnosed with testicular cancer for a second time in July 2020
  • His dream of taking the stage helped get him through chemotherapy
  • Shafar hopes finding a way to laugh about cancer will help others

One of Australia’s rising comedians, the 30-year-old has just returned to the stage after finishing chemotherapy, for a second time, in December.

“I’ve gotta say, a huge advantage of losing a testicle, I finally feel comfortable with skinny jeans, finally,” he joked to a captive audience at the annual Adelaide Fringe.

It’s a message he wasn’t initially comfortable sharing as he battled cancer for the first time.

He looked physically terrible, up on stage, as he kept performing through treatment.

Shafar was first diagnosed with testicular cancer in October 2017.

It spread to his abdomen and chest and specialists gave him just a 50 per cent chance of surviving.

Six months of chemotherapy and a few rounds of surgery later, doctors gave him the all-clear.

He felt on top of the world and back to normal life, until a routine test in July last year.

Comedy dream stayed strong during chemotherapy

Right in the middle of Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown, cancer was again found growing in his abdomen.

As he went through chemotherapy, the dream of getting up on stage drove him through the testing time.

Now he has again been given the all-clear by doctors, but he is taking the good news with a grain of salt.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in three months, six months, 12 months.

“I hope and expect I’ll be fine, but I guess something we’ve all learned in 2020 is that we have no control over anything.”

Michael Shafar has found a way to joke about cancer after being given the all-clear twice.(

ABC News: Simon Christie


His comedy journey began in 2014, when he did not get any job offers after completing his studies to be a lawyer.

Shafar first performed on open mic stages in Washington.

He said they were “awful” but years of writing and performing helped him hone his craft and then he started to be noticed.

‘It’s my strongest material, ironically’

Since cancer crash-tackled his plans, his very personal story has become a big part of his comedy routine.

“I actually found that by dealing with it, like it became kind of my strongest material ironically, because I think people saw how real it was,” Shafar said.

Michael Shafar has beaten cancer twice and his new comedy show at the Adelaide Fringe takes audiences through the journey with a laugh.

Finding a way to joke about cancer has made a difference for many in the audience, including at one show in Melbourne.

“There were a few elderly women in the crowd and they seemed to be having a good time, which was nice,” he said.

“That was a really touching moment for me that maybe, in a very small way, I might have helped these women psychologically deal with what they’ve been through.”

Shafar has been performing in a regular show at Gluttony in the Fringe and doing guest spots at other shows around the city.

With his cancer background, he has to take extra precautions, using hand sanitiser constantly, wearing a mask while in close quarters and trying to keep his distance from people as much as possible.

Performing in outdoor venues such as the Fringe entertainment hub Gluttony has also helped.

Shafar said there would always be good and bad gigs, but just being back performing is a blessing.

Once the Adelaide Fringe wraps up, Shafar will perform in Sydney, as well as at this month’s Melbourne Comedy Festival.