9 July 2011

Tragic but ya gotta laugh

Our recent politics has been tragic and to survive, you’ve just gotta laugh. Julia and Tony battling it out and political parties purposeless and denialism and emotionalism rife. So last night we set out to have a laugh with our excellent local political satirists, Shortis and Simpson, supported by The House Howlers and the Shiny Bum Singers.

The House Howlers are a choir from the Parliament House Press Gallery; the Shiny Bums are our renowned public service choir. They all take the mickey by relyricising popular tunes to hilarious results. Some quotes will give you the idea: “Canonisation / that’s the name of the game / with each veneration / they play it the same” on Mary McKillop and the Catholic Church; “Greens to the left of me / Katter to the right / Here I am, stuck in the middle with you” on our minority Federal government; “I am rich / I’ll pay for anything / I am Malcolm [Turnbull]” to the tune of I am woman; “I should have danced all night” on the unfortunate consequences of the Office Christmas party. Singing upmarket with Bizet’s Carbon and an amusing history of all the Prime Ministers, and downmarket to Rocky Horror. As for S&S, I’ve written about them here before and they were just as entertaining this time. They presented new material and some older material updated, but always with their good humour, sharp tongue and professional cabaret presentation. Last time I heard them at Vivaldi’s with a grand piano and a bar environment which was great for the intimate and inclusive context. This was a bigger show with a bigger venue and bigger support. Who could forget the drunk spoonerist and the rolling of Rudd or the “two Wongs and a White”. I was surprised by some unexpectedly touching tunes. One was about Edward Barton who lived in an attic, cooking over embers, a classical scholar who would rather speak latin with the Pope, but had to lead a cabinet of Kings. Another was on the live export of cattle and how their treatment was well known for 11 years before our recent moral and political panic. I especially enjoyed the final tunes for each set where S&S were supported by the combined choirs. The first was the heavy and repetitive “We don’t need no tax on carbon … Hey, Gillard, leave our cash alone” to the tune of Pink Floyd’s Brick in the wall. The second was the wittily worded anthem on the Liberal Party presidency, “Give Reith a chance” to the tune of Lennon & Ono’s Give peace a chance. That had us all singing and waving our arms which was no surprise: it’s an infectious song and obviously of the era of this boomer audience. Great times, great wit, great laughs and even some seriousness. S&S are a local gem.

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