By Situation Theatre 8/5/2019
Abbott’s Law states the quality of a nation’s satire is inversely proportional to the quality of the government. For the last six years the world’s best satire has called Australia home.
In less than 10 days, 16 million Australian voters will go to the polls. Thanks to the fact that we live in a meritocracy which rewards hard work and punishes incompetence, 534 of them will vote for the Liberal Party. It would have been 535 but Malcolm Turnbull likes the look of Kerryn Phelps.
To ensure it’s only those on the Liberal Party payroll and some of their dependents who can stomach a vote for “the biggest pack of mendacious shitlords this country has ever seen”, The Juice Media has produced their last Honest Government Ad before the election.
The ad reminds voters that the last six years of revolving Prime Ministers and their inept colleagues, oligarchic economic policy, rampant corruption, ecocidal climate policy, deprivation of civil liberties, concentration of media ownership, and bungling of key infrastructure projects, was not some kind of terrible collective acid trip, but a brutal dystopian reality.
The Juice Media has been producing Australia’s best satire since 2016, including this clip about Timor-Leste, this clip on the ABC, this one on Australia Day, this one on refugees, and this one on climate breakdown.
The historian and satirist behind The Juice Media, Giordano Nanni, was interviewed by someone else at the forefront of Australia’s new wave of satire, Tom Ballard.
This episode of Ballard’s podcast, Like I’m A Six Year Old, includes a host of thoughtful reflections on the intersection of history, politics, and chuckles.
Ballard himself is strong evidence for Abbott’s Law, producing two of the strongest segments in recent times highlighting the reactionary nature of our government and their allies in the media.
This Tonightly clip from September 2018 did an outstanding job of laying out the staggering dimensions of government failure on the greatest existential threat to humanity.
And this other Tonightly clip from last year flipped the absurdist Sunrise segment calling for another Stolen Generation and featured Nakkiah Lui calling for unqualified, clueless, white media pundits to be removed from national television in the interests of their own welfare.
Lui also starred in the satirical peak of 2019, the Get Krack!n Season Two Finale.
There was some sharp writing this season, such as this sketch in which “convicted white supremacist Coby Boyle, government-pension funded troll Bill Langham and hitherto unemployed, right-wing firebrand Tikki Cheeseman” joined the Kates for the “time-honoured Breakfast TV tradition of adding hysteria to a non-issue of the day.”
But even this was eclipsed by the astonishing power of Miranda Tapsell’s monologue in the final episode:
If you don’t like me being angry, then by all means Australia, take my furious baton and run this race for me. Because we are dying in infancy, we are dying in custody, and we are dying decades earlier than you, and you should be as angry about that as I am. Stop being angry at families who are fleeing war zones or at schools for teaching kids properly about sex and their bodies or in any other things these bullshit shows tell you to be angry about just so they can fill a talk break. Be angry at what is happening to us for me so I’m not the only one shouting. But you know what, until you do that, FUCK ALL OF THIS SHIT! FUCK THIS RACIST CUSHION! FUCK ALL OF THESE RACIST CUSHIONS! FUCK THIS SEXIST LAMP! FUCK THESE WHITE SUPREMACIST CUPCAKES! YOU EAT ‘EM. YOU EAT ‘EM.
None of this is to mention Nakkiah Lui’s work on Black Comedy, her several highly successful satirical plays, nor the significant amount of clever work coming from Aamer Rahman, The Betoota Advocate, The Shovel, Mark Humphries, SBS The Feed’s Victoria Zerbst and Jenna Owen, The Weekly, Zoe Coombs Marr, The Chaser, Mad as Hell and much much more.
In recent years, as the Australian government has plumbed dark depths of shitfuckery, Australian satirists have switched on the harsh light of great satire.
These comedians have used the many tools of day-to-day and systemic satire to expose this government for the “pack of mendacious shitlords” they are.
A few weeks back, journalist George Monbiot appeared on Frankie Boyle’s New World Order to say that because of climate and ecological breakdown, “we need to go straight to the heart of capitalism and overthrow it”.
On a Novara Media podcast episode following this broadcast, he pointed out "You cannot make a systemic critique of capitalism, of our political economy on either current affairs programmes or on documentaries. The only place you can do it is on a comedy show…it’s disgraceful, it’s the biggest form of bias."
It is disgraceful, and the Australian media is no better. They fail to hold the worst Australian government ever, proven by science, to a basic level of accountability, let alone discuss alternatives to capitalism.
Still, we can at least thank the shitlords for Abbott’s Law.