Regular readers of Green Left Weekly will sometimes admit their favourite part of the paper is Carlo’s Corner, the semi-regular satirical column by comic writer and performer Carlo Sands.
In a paper filled with heavy and even gloomy topics, people appreciate the chance to laugh — especially at the seemingly all-powerful forces who presume to be our betters yet cause so much pain.
“No joke can change the world, or really anything at all,” Sands says, ahead of his stand up show Inspired? at the Sydney Fringe Comedy Festival.
Sands says he has no problem with his often-satirical comedy simply “preaching to the converted”, noting: “The converted need to laugh, probably more than anyone.”
On how “the times” impacts on political comedy, he argues: “People think political comedy is easier in the age of [US President Donald] Trump and other absurdities, but it actually isn’t.
“You have to work to find angles that do more than just showcase how stupid our rulers are — they do that themselves. How can you write anything more absurd than the Trump administration? So it is really a question of how do you draw out the why?
“In comedy, your first job is to entertain and amuse. If you don’t do that, there’s no point. But if you can do that while highlighting something people may not have considered, or that helps people think about topics that seem too dark, then that can be a good use of the form.”
Legendary left-wing comic Rod Quantock once described Sands as “a sharp, well-informed political comedian who crafts laughter from the absurdities of left and right”.
This poses a possibly awkward question for a show raising funds for GLW: Will the jokes also target the left?
“Maybe some aspects of modern progressive culture,” Sands admits. “Mainly social media and how we use it. It is very easy to get lost in just expressing outrage or having circular, never-ending debates on social media and that provides some obvious targets.
“I certainly have no desire to mock or laugh at the desire to win social change, but you’ve also got to be able to laugh at yourself. Humour can be crucial to how we process all sorts of things, good, bad and imperfect. If we can’t laugh at the absurdities of our side, it’s not my revolution.”
Asked why he made the show a fundraiser for GLW, Sands offers: “It’s partly because it’s the best newspaper in the country covering often untold stories of ordinary people in struggle that no one else reports on, and, to be honest, partly so that even if the show is shit, you can still walk out thinking, ‘Well, at least that money didn’t go to Murdoch’.”
He promises his show won’t be shit, but, really, there is only one way to find out.
[Carlo Sands' solo show Inspired? is at the Factory Theatre in Marrickville as part of the Sydney Fringe Comedy Festival on September 27 and September 29 at 7pm, and October 1 at 6pm. All proceeds to GLW.]