Words by Tom Haskell
I recently watched the rather interesting ABC documentary on Bob Hawke. What I found most intriguing about the show was just how much character and personality Hawke seemed to have had. His identity of course led to many pisstakes and parodies within the Australian comedy circuit of the 80s which was briefly touched upon in the show. If we’re being honest, Tony Abbott was really the last great leader to take the piss out of since Howard left office. So when I consider the material that Australian political satirists have had in the last decade or so, I kind of feel sorry for them.
I took this sense of pity with me to the Arkaba Hotel recently to watch YouTube comedian and Australian satirist, Jordan Shanks a.k.a. Friendlyjordies (herein referred to as “jordies”). From the outset, ‘jordies was in the unenviable position of having to spend an entire hour satirising the life of Malcolm Turnbull. See, the thing about Malcolm Turnbull that makes him so devoid of comedic potential is that his main traits are that he is rich and he is a spineless and ineffectual leader. That’s really about it. Turnbull’s character does not lend itself to comedy; it’s the comedic equivalent of putt-putt: fun to do sometimes but a bit tedious after 5 minutes.
The character of Turnbull that ‘jordies portrays is this French aristocrat — with the white lead powder, wig, and all — who has a cartoonish contempt for the working class. I’ll be honest, I never really found his portrayal of Turnbull to be that funny or biting in his videos, and I didn’t really find it that much funnier at his show. It seems to be a trope in left-wing comedy that all conservatives are these over-the-top rich fucks who like nothing more than seeing poor people suffer. Look, sure, but I feel that the real humor should be more subtle and nuanced than that. Luckily though, ‘jordies did often break from his Turnbull character to do a bunch of different ones including Mercedes Corby, old chess-playing Vietnamese men, and run-of-the-mill Aussie dickheads. Yilmaz got a mention but didn’t make an appearance, much to the disappointment of a few fans (probably).
These frequent but all-too-brief breaks from the Turnbull character were the saving grace of an otherwise lukewarm show. I did enjoy myself, and perhaps I am being a bit harsh on the Turnbull character, but I severely hope that Turnbull gets rolled as PM purely so Australian political satire can become funny again.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars