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RIP NZ satire

Written By: - Date published: 8:15 am, February 18th, 2016 - 49 comments
Categories: Media, Satire, Steven Joyce - Tags: , , , ,

John Oliver’s piece on Dildo Baggins is great, applying the satirical boot to the nuts of the NZ body politic.

Why is it that it takes an American show to perform this public service? There used to be, long ago, great satirical current events shows homegrown in NZ. Why did we let them die out? Laughter is one of the best checks on political megalomania that there is.

Link if still blocked

49 comments on “RIP NZ satire”

  1. Petertoo 1

    Satire never died, it just became reality in the neo-liberal world.

  2. Arthur 2

    Tom Lehrer, “I gave up satire when Henry Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize.”

  3. weka 3

    Wasn’t it all downhill after John Clarke left?

    Seriously though, what was NZ’s great satire? I’m curious to know what Standardistas valued.

    And what remants are there?

    • vto 3.1

      John Clarke was and remains the king

      There is promise in that young man in a white shirt behind a desk though. He is good and will no doubt grow into it ….

      But yes there is a lack of satire for sure. Maybe it is do with a greater sensitivity today – satirists are too scared of offending people. People are easily offended today – or rather, perhaps they always were offended but just too scared to stand up for themselves in the past. Whatever it is, I think our culture has changed and let satire droop

      • weka 3.1.1

        Oh good, I forgot about the White Man Behind a Desk.

        https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo46IpsBPqg8k6Ih0qYzlMA/videos

      • Rosie 3.1.2

        “Maybe it is do with a greater sensitivity today – satirists are too scared of offending people.”

        I think theres an element of that, which comes back to what natwatch is saying “laughter is one of the best checks on political megalomania that there is”.

        Once people can laugh at people in power it shakes off that sense of being untouchable and people in power would rather die that be drawn down the level of the ordinary person, via the power of laughter. Keeping satirists fearful, through the threat of “being offensive” keeps our politicians safe from scrutiny and cynicism.

    • Atiawa 3.2

      McPhail & Gadsby had a field day with their brand of political satire during the 80’s. It’s a great thing to laugh at ourselves, especially our politicians who purport to be acting in our best interests.
      John Clarke’s departure to Australia along with Billy T’s early death left a void that has never been replaced.

    • miravox 3.3

      I thought McPhail and Gadsby did a good job. Lots of material back in the ’80s. Not that there isn’t now.

      Edit – a bit dated now, themes are similar, but sensibilities have changed.

    • Natwatch 3.4

      A Week Of It. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Week_of_It

      The show before McPhail and Gadsby, a who’s who of NZ comedy at the time.

  4. cogito 4

    That Planet Key song was pretty good….

    Also, just read this…. 🙂
    Radio station RDU bans Max Key’s song: ‘We respect real musicians’
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=11591402

  5. shorts 5

    John Clarke was a national treasure or should have been, sadly he left us due to our lack of support for comedy

    A Week of It was great, especially with the benefit of hindsight

    Jeremy Wells and Mikey havoc did some great stuff – thanks largely to the team behind them, Paul Casserly, Graham Hill etc

    as much as I personally loathed Billy T his brand of comedy was enormously popular without being overly generic or derivative

    Back Of The Y

    the Download Concept have been consistently good, (7 days, hounds…) sometimes great

    We’ve a number of exceptional cartoonists

    hit and miss with stand up but its a form that continues growing and in many instances getting better – usually the great aren’t those that go onto hosting breakfast radio etc

    Yes we’ve had some dire comedy, especially on TV and a huge reason for that was the commissioning of comedy by TVNZ, a particular staffer was responsible for nothing good or interesting hitting our screens for a long long time

    The fact we don’t have a John oliver or satire show isn’t that we’re not funny, its that we’re risk adverse and cheap

  6. Rosie 6

    I found Funny Girls which screened on Friday nights late last year absolutely hilarious and socially-politically on the button. Not sure if they are doing another series.

    Other than that we’ve had a satire drought for well over a decade, and televised comedy in general has been thin on the ground. We’ve really only got the “No Minister” segment on 7 days in which politics is satirised. Thats usually fairly lively.

    Bring back those puppets I say. The last time we had those on the screen was when Helen Clark was in power. Can’t remember the name of the show. It was based on the British puppet satire show of the same format.

    For UK satire you need to go on line and look for shows like Mock the Week, hosted by Dara O Briain and Weekly Wipe hosted by Charlie Brooker, although I think that show got canned because the public didn’t get it. 10 o clock live with David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker and Lauren Laverne was also brilliant but was canned as well.

    • McFlock 6.1

      Funny Girls was pretty funny, but it didn’t really go for political satire (although the descriptions of the corporate production politics might have touched a few raw nerves).

      Seven Days occasionally has some withering lines. It’s almost the only thing on 3 I look at now.

      • Rosie 6.1.1

        More social-political? I was thinking of the references to gender power imbalance that were liberally dotted through out the shows. That kind of content hasn’t been aired for gee, I don’t know how long.
        The main content was purely comedic rather than political satire though.

    • weka 6.2

      Just had a look on TV3’s website and Funy Girls in no longer available online. Unebelievable. Keep it up TV3, the sooner you die the death you deserve the better.

      • Rosie 6.2.1

        Here’s a few skits to give you an idea. I recommend “talking about periods” and “Game of thrones for women”.

        I can’t see the clips from the first episode which was the funniest. It included a faux ad for a board game for girls where they could spin the dial and end up with life options like poverty, sole parenting, housework etc. The boys equivalent board game gave them life options like property owner, CEO, golf club etc.

        https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC14BztgtuXYpCfJq6QOLEHw

  7. SaveOurNix 7

    I remember ‘McPhail and (RIP) Gadsby’. What about the show ‘Facelift’ on TVNZ (in and around when Don Brash was leader of the National Party).
    Can someone help me (or correct me) on this: but wasn’t there a bill introduced where NZ Politicians weren’t to be made fun of in NZ media-and it was passed unanimously. (I think it occurred ether near the end of Helen Clark’s Labour government or the start of John Key’s National government.)

  8. madtom 8

    It’s not just satire that has left our screens since the late 80s. A wide variety of humour has also vanished (not just Billy T), along with serious investigative journalism.

    What they all have in common is that they can convey the truth to the public in ways that would-be masters of the people find difficult to counter.

    The most egregious television example I recall is a program on Channel 1 titled “In the Public Interest”(iirc). It documented how much money both major parties were receiving illegally from corporate interests. As I recall, not only was the program discontinued, but all the people responsible had their TV careers terminated; had to go to Oz to even continue in the profession.

    But pre-internet events are difficult to google, and often vanish from consciousness.

    Then there was a “reorganisation” at Radio New Zealand that required presenters to repeat “Radio New Zealand – NATIONAL” hundreds of times a day. Anyone who doubts that this was an effective vote-getter for the party of that name should read up on Zajonc’s “mere exposure effect” as documented in best-seller psychology classic “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman.

    John Campbell was just the last man standing in a war that most of us didn’t even know we were losing.

    • Gosman 8.1

      As opposed to the previous naming standards which was ‘National Radio’. Yeah huge difference in differentiation there /sarc

      • madtom 8.1.1

        There was certainly a huge difference in the emotional emphasis and the needless repetition rate. As “National Radio” I heard a simple descriptive name that hardly registered on me. The division into National, International, Pacific, Concert (or whatever the needless complications are) and the unnecessary 24/7/365 declarations that it is “Radio New Zealand – NATIONAL” (now of course RNZ – NATIONAL) instead of one of the other artificial subdivisions, as if we need to be told more than RNZ to avoid confusion, introduced a whole new style that made it uncomfortable for me to even listen, it sounded so political.

    • Molly 8.2

      You may be thinking of the Frontline programme “For the Public Good” that Chris Trotter – along with others – has referred to.

      Lange, Douglas and Prebble all sued after the programme was aired.

      I thought there was a copy available for lending from the National Library, but I can’t find it at present. It was there a couple of months ago.

  9. millsy 9

    Political satire died in this country when ‘Issues’/’More Issues’ was taken off the air. That was a sketch show that had an ensemble cast, John Wright, McPhail, Gadsby, Willy de Witt, Rima Te Wiata, Liz Mullane, etc.

    McPhail and Gadsby came back in 1998/99 but I think they had lost their edge by then.

  10. Mrs Brillo 10

    Correct me if I’m misremembering, but I do not recall John Clarke doing political satire while in New Zealand.

    Pinky Agnew and Lorae Parry have done some excellent and hilarious NZ political commentary in their stage shows in the last ten years. In any sane country, they would have their own satirical show on TV. Instead, we get overgrown adolescent males with toilet jokes.

    • millsy 10.1

      ” Instead, we get overgrown adolescent males with toilet jokes”

      Comedy/satire has gone down that route over the past 20-odd years, but there are a few bright spots.

      I saw one movie a few years ago where it felt like one group of writers wrote the first half, and then another wrote the second. The first half was really intellegent satire poking fun at religion and politics, then all of the sudden it ran out of steam and decended into toilet humour.

  11. rhinocrates 11

    Satire has definitely gone downhill. John Key’s impression of the Prime Minister is terrible.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      +1

    • Macro 11.2

      hehehe sad but true.

    • greywarshark 11.3

      But then when investigators study alibis given by suspects, they sometimes think they are so bad, so unrealistic that they must be true. The paradox of life or something.

    • rhinocrates 11.4

      Sometimes I expect him to peel off a rubber mask and reveal that he’s Andy Kaufman.

      • North 11.4.1

        Key does an excellent cringing land agent from Hicksville up for next year’s rotational presidency of local Jaycees. Just a fucking embarassment. Has he ever read a book to the actual end ? Maybe the gauche “munter” depends on Crosby-Textor-Coles-Notes ?

  12. Sabine 12

    I am not sure that we have no Satire anymore. There is plenty o’satire in parliament.

    bwhahahahahahhahahaha

  13. Gangnam Style 13

    News paper cartoonists still flying the flag of kicking the Govts arse with biting humour. Thank you Slane, Murdoch, Tremain, Nisbet, Scott, Evans, Emmerson, Foxy, Hodgson & the rest.

  14. One Anonymous Bloke 14

    Laughter is one of the best checks on political megalomania…

    It’d be nice to think that, eh. It’s certainly a commonly held belief. Clive James’ Cultural Amnesia cites several historical examples of it leading directly to a slew of dead cartoonists.

    Charlie Hebdo, anybody?

    Sure, lampoon them, ridicule them, and carry a big stick just in case.

  15. greywarshark 15

    It is possible that this type of publicity suits the Gnats – it puts them into the mindspace of the fellers that think dwarf throwing in pubs is amusing. Appealing to the very common man seems to bring them the support they need.

  16. James Thrace 16

    FaceLift which was produced by Gibson group was excellent.

    The death knell was when the old fucktard, Trevor Mallard, put through a members bill which declared Politicians shall not be ridiculed.

    In an instant, the ability for perfect comedy satire disappeared thanks to the harsh sanctions if they dared to take parts of the televised parliamentary proceedings and use it to ridicule politicians.

    That I think, is probably the main reason why satire in nz has now ended. If it weren’t for that, perhaps John Keys throat slitting gesture would have got a far wider airing.

  17. Instauration 17

    Satire is okay for people who can afford to laugh and understand irony.
    People who are hungry and hopeless don’t laugh much.
    Hopelessness is a prevalent precursor to hunger.
    When you are hungry you don’t care much about political options – other priorities prevail.
    When you are hopeless – people who engage with ideas and sustenance can influence and negate the less – to Hope.
    Hope is manifest by the exercise of political options.
    Laughter and irony don’t feature much in this equation.

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