Bryce Edwards: The lighter side of the election campaign (Part One)

Bryce Edwards: The lighter side of the election campaign (Part One)

This election campaign is getting serious – with rising aggression and fear in the campaign over the last day or so. Political satire not only provides a welcome relief from some of the more worthy and earnest parts of the campaign, but often makes some serious points. So below are some of the most humorous parts of the election campaign so far.

Satirical impersonations

The most interesting new satirist of the 2017 election campaign is impersonator Tom Sainsbury, who has been putting together short “Kiwis of Snapchat” video clips throughout the campaign of some of the politicians and political events. Particularly recommended are Post-leaders’ debate debriefThe voters speak, and Meet Mr Jacinda Ardern.

Sainsbury does a brilliant Paula Bennett so check out Paula Bennett on the Newshub poll, along with Bill and Paula plan their next moves, and Robin McCandless, Green Party candidate.

A selection of Sainsbury’s videos are on The Spinoff website, and for many more you can go to his Facebook page, Tom Sainsbury – Comedian and Snapchat Dude, which includes the very funny Nikki Kaye weighs in on Jacinda’s rise. And for a cameo by the politician herself, see, Becoming Nikki Kaye….

Jeremy Wells continues his “Like Mike” impersonations of Mike Hosking, and in his latest video, Mike is disillusioned with all the political parties – see: Election Golden Showers.

Political theatre and stories

Communicating politics through theatre and story-telling is in full swing at the moment. In Wellington, for example, Anya Tate-Manning is producing the latest instalment of the “Public Service Announcements” series at the Bats Theatre – it runs until the 16th of September. This series, called “Stranger Politics” is profiled by Amber Allott in her article, Capital’s longest running political satire show back in time for another election.

Another Wellingtonian, Robbie Nicol, recently had his White Man Behind a Desk show running at the Q Theatre in Auckland, in which different politicians would participate on stage – you can read Glenn McConnell’s background on this: Political performance: White Man Behind A Desk turns monologues into theatre.

The show is finished now, but you can watch short clips of appearances by Jacinda ArdernMetiria TureiGareth MorganGeoff Simmons, and Andrew Little.

Wellington theatre group Barbarian Productions was also demonstrating how politics can be done differently, operating a free haircutting salon last week – see Giles Dexter’s Election debate a cut above at Wellington hairdresser. In this article, theatrical hairdresser Jason Muir explains: “At hairdressing school, you were taught not to talk about politics, religion and sex, so we were like, ‘Hey, why don’t we break all those rules and make a whole salon about politics, at least?”

TVNZ is also fostering political satire via its new Facebook-driven social media channel, Re:, which hosts “Flat Race 2017”. As Ruby Macandrew explains in her article Wellington actor providing comedic relief from the political chaos, the series featuring Jack Buchanan is a parody of the election. The six-part series releases an episode every week – see the first episode.

Laughing at the incumbents

As the incumbents, National receives more mockery than most other parties. And Bill English is seen in “one of the most cringe-inducing viewing experiences” in this interview with RadioLive’s Ryan Bridge – see Newshub’s Jono and Ben’s awkward take on Newshub’s Bill English interview. English’s evasive tendencies also get taken down in Andrew Gunn’s Bill English’s refresher in media training.

But it’s Steven Joyce who is on the receiving end of most of the satirists’ jibes. Ben Uffindell has done a great job of parodying Joyce’s steadfast avowal of a $11.7b gap in Labour’s budget – see: Steven Joyce reminds journalists that everyone said Copernicus was wrong, too, and Nation deeply divided over whether to put expected operating spending in categorised expenses row or operation allowances row. The latter reports on the accounting scandal: “The truly stunning accusations have lit a fire underneath an already polarising race, and raised the eyebrows of every voter over 60 with more than ten years experience as a chartered accountant.”

And Steve Branuias describes Joyce’s descent into craziness – see: The secret diary of The Hole.

Paula Bennett gets nicely parodied by Andrew Gunn in her hunt for law and order votes, with him explaining why she “doubled down on a controversial new policy that will enable police to enter properties without a warrant to search for redneck National votes” – see: Emergency delivery of smug for the Beehive.

What would Bennett and English tweet to each other? And what if other leaders then joined the thread? For the answer, see Gunn’s A pre-election Tweetstorm bounces around the Beehive.

See also, Ben Uffindell’s National promises ambitious new expressway between South Auckland and prison.

Jacindamania jokes

There’s been so much news, but too few jokes about Jacinda Ardern, so far. But satirist Andrew Gunn brings you both, in his column, All the Jacinda news you had somehow missed.

Gunn’s best part is about the gender issues surrounding Ardern’s rise to power: “Celebrity non-journalist Mike Hosking has tweeted from his bathtub this morning that if Ardern does become Prime Minister there is no reason she should automatically be paid the same as her predecessor. ‘Never been in government, never been in Cabinet, never run anything – why should she expect the same money? Not sexism, just reality’ read Hosking’s tweet. Hosking added that until Ardern demonstrated the same sort of credibility as Bill English, a pay gap of, say, 12 per cent should apply to the young slip of a thing, and concluded by expressing relief that ‘At least finally now we can stop celebrating women’s achievements’.”

The focus on the new Labour leader’s gender proved good material for others, too – see Raybon Kan’s Questions for blokes to ask Jacinda.

But perhaps the funniest thing about Jacindamania has been watching the reactions from rivals, and Toby Manhire parodies these in his column, Arden up! Strategies for Jacinda effect. Here’s what New Zealand First was supposedly strategising: “We must accuse her of a plot to Jacindarellarise the regions. And we must buy up all the toothpaste in Grey Lynn. And if none of that works, offer to cover the maternity leave.”

National’s strategists were trying to come up with a new catch phrase to deal with her: “The insult branding unit has been up with the focus groups for days and the truth is they’re struggling. Nothing close to the Angry Andy triumph yet. Jacindistinct? No. Blahcinda? No. Arden Up? No. Ja Rule? Too Eminemesque. The best we’ve got is Flakey Jacey, and that just sounds like a delicious tribute chocolate bar.”

Steve Braunias also surveys the responses to Ardern’s rise – even poking fun at political commentators on Twitter – see: Secret Diary of the ascension of Jacinda Ardern.

Lampooning the leaders debates

The leaders debates have provided satirists with plenty of fodder – in terms of the politicians involved, and who chairs them.

The most humorous post-debate account was written before the first leaders debate took place – see Toby Manhire’s Why weren’t they more like Key?

Of course, that debate turned out to be rather boring, with the two leaders failing to shine. As Ben Uffindell wrote, “Ardern closed the debate on a positive note, reinforcing her theme of “relentless positivity” by saying she agreed with “everything Bill said” – see: The Great Hosking Debate: A Debrief.

This parody has plenty of great lines about Ardern: “Jacinda Ardern spent the day with a working group that has spent the last several years producing a detailed report on what she should say tonight. In the end, it determined she should propose a working group”; and “When asked how she would ensure she was bringing in enough migrants to build a sufficient number of affordable homes, Jacinda Ardern promised that, under a Labour Government, migrants will be selected on the basis of whether they have carpenter-sounding names.

Uffindell also images a scenario in which Mike Hosking is sacked from chairing the debates: “Head of News John Gillespie said he simply ‘couldn’t go through” with letting Hosking host the debates, after discovering his prepared cue cards were just “lists of different labels of red wine’.” – see: Hosking to be replaced in leaders debates by Jim Hickey, who will ask questions exclusively about the weather.

And watching the leaders debates was lightened up by the bingo cards created by Katie Parker and Susan Strongman – see: We made leaders debate bingo cards.

Finally, as always, the cartoonists manage to say so much by drawing pictures – see my blog post, Cartoons: The best cartoons of the 2017 New Zealand general election (so far).