For as long as rulers have abused their power there has also been political satire. Satirists have used wit and comedy as a weapon against the powerful, sometimes braving imprisonment, torture or the gallows.
Perhaps none of the four satirists who were featured at “Welcome to the Abbottoir”, Green Left Weekly's inaugural Sydney comedy night on November 9, have yet to brave the gallows (though one of them, Twiggy Palmcock, was roughed up by security guards when he famously crashed PM Tony Abbott's election night victory party) but all gave powerful performances.
Palmcock, who describes himself as an unfairly politically overlooked “Excretum Mining CEO and magnate” spoke of his ambition to set up a “Septic Think Tank to combat Climate Alarmism”.
Palmcock said he came with a mission “to restore the bias to this sordid Maoist frat house party”. And he seemed to have hypnotised the audience into repeating after him a string of “Buddhist chants” he had cunningly adapted to his political quest to become the next conservative member for the seat of Greenway.
Carlo Sands, a self-described “militant alcoholic”, was a former champion of Clive Palmer's political hopes until real life once more overtook parody. He frantically workshopped replacement political missions.
Hannah G from Newcastle (a fact she used to win instant sympathy from the Sydney crowd) gave a dramatic reading of excerpts from Abbott's political autobiography Battlelines, revealing the PM's hitherto unrecognised comic talent.
Last, Michael Hing — whose satirical federal election series for SBS TV tore the scabs of some ugly political realities this year — indulged in a rare opportunity to get the best laughs for his merciless jibes at racism in Australia. Chuffed, he said: “Oh, that's the first time anybody laughed at that joke!”
The venue, at the Addison Road Community Centre, was packed out and rocked with laughter from start to finish. As host Chris Williams said, the consensus — of audience and performers — at the end of the performance was: "We want more of this."
With big political battles of resistance to wage on so many fronts against the Abbott government and the corporate rich it serves, we need to muster the energy and will to persist. Political satire is a mighty weapon and we need more successful events like this.
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