Tuesday, 11 October 2011

(Spectator leader Oct 7)

News that Julia Gillard has enlisted the scriptwriting services of stand-up comedian Corinne Grant comes as no surprise. But Corinne will struggle to maintain the high comedic standards.

Who can forget gems such as “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead,” said with a straight face? Or the hilarious “I am the best person to lead this country,” a line delivered with all the quixotic defiance of Python’s Black Knight.

Julia’s deft touch involves taking what we know and twisting it with biting sarcasm: “What I've said to Kevin is I think that this is the best (time for him) to spend more time with his family, which I know is one of his key priorities."

As Corinne knows, the set-up is always important in writing a killer gag. Having dismissed the Howard government’s Pacific Solution as “costly… and wrong in principle” Julia them embarked upon a series of side-splitting alternatives. "In recent days I have discussed with President Ramos-Horta of East Timor the possibility of establishing a regional processing centre” got a few laughs, but nothing like the awesome satirical irony of the Malaysian solution.

Students of stand-up will study the Gillard technique for years. On tackling climate change: "A representative group of Australians drawn from all walks of life will help move us forward," was funny enough, but Julia milked it to the hilt: "The committee concluded that in view of the creation of this committee that the proposal of a citizens' assembly should not be implemented."

Every great comedian has a predictable catch-phrase. “Just like that!” was Tommy Cooper’s, used whenever calamity struck. Julia has her own punchline for whenever she stuffs up: “Mr. Abbott will need to take the responsibility for that.” It’s a good gag, but it’s wearing a bit thin. Over to you, Corinne.

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