Satirists usually don’t mind what political party is in power. In fact, so the clich?oes, the more conservative the government, the richer the material.
Eddie Perfect disagrees. The writer of such comic anthems as Charlie The Right Wing Conservative Christian And Me, Stop Being So September 10 and Some Of My Best Friends Are Aboriginal finds the recent political climate almost unbearably muggy.
I trotted out an old song on the weekend -“ John Howard’s Bitches -“ without even thinking about it, Perfect says, by phone from Melbourne. Then about halfway in it I said I just can’t do this. I stopped. And the audience and I had a big discussion about it.
I said -˜it’s just not funny’ -¦ The laughter has to come from a place where [a situation] is ridiculous -“ so let’s do something about it. Not -˜isn’t it funny how we’re all fucked’.
Happily for Perfect, he’s been given a golden comic opportunity to do something about it. Next up for the Melbourne cabaret artist is a major collaboration with the granddaddy of Australian political satire, Max Gillies.
The pair are the stars of The Big Con, a show set at the fictitious Centre for Independent Analysis, peopled by conference members including John Howard, Amanda Vanstone, Mark Latham, Tony Blair, Bob Carr and George Dubya.
They’re all played by Max of course, but Perfect gets to tinkle the ivories, and has written the show’s music and lyrics.
It’s a great team, I reckon, Perfect says. I was a little worried that the kind of stuff I do wouldn’t appeal to his audience and [they] may be a little bit older than my usual audience. But he’s been saying no, you can say whatever you like.
One gets the sense Perfect wouldn’t have it any other way. He recently made The Bulletin magazine’s Smartest 100 list, topping the arts category above competitors like choreographer Frances Rings and filmmaker Cate Shortland. Interviewed for the magazine, Perfect said cabaret had been hijacked and people understandably assume most of it is shit.
When asked by the Star if he thought he was smart, the answer was simple.
Yeah I do, Perfect says, then pauses. I had a bit of a weird time at the [Bulletin awards] lunch -¦ A lot of the focus of smartness and creativity was in regard to the market economy and making money and finding new markets and exploiting them. All that kind of stuff, which actually I think is all a little evil.
But to answer your question, I guess yeah, you have to be really smart in the arts because it’s a really weird path -¦ But I think the smartness and creativity comes in telling stories and explaining people’s humanity to them rather than exploiting money out of them.
The Big Con is playing at the Sydney Opera House Playhouse until 11 December. Phone 9250 7777. For more information on Mr Perfect (yes, it’s his real name), visit www.eddieperfect.com.