In the days after the Liberal government win at the 2004 federal election, there was a letter in The Sydney Morning Herald which read, It’s as if Australia has decided to stay in a bad marriage for the money.
For Wharf Revue satirist Jonathan Biggins, the letter expressed exactly what he felt about the state of the country -“ and it is a mood he believes has not changed.
That is what we are living in, Higgins says. I don’t think people are happier or more relaxed or more secure.
For this reason, Higgins believes it is the job of The Wharf Revue and other satirists to point out where modern life is going wrong.
I think we are playing an important role, he says. We (The Wharf Revue) may reach a minority, but then there are others like The Chaser or Wil Anderson who go out to a much wider audience.
The more the government digs in and refuses to do anything, no matter what is said about them, the more important satire becomes. In the six years we have been doing the Revues, there has been a definite audience push for more politics rather than the cheap laughs.
Even if we are preaching to the converted, I believe even the converted need to be reminded occasionally why they converted in the first place.
The Revue’s new show Best We Forget features Biggins with Drew Forsythe, Genevieve Lemon, Michael Falzon and pianist Nigel Ubriehn. Among the targets of their biting satire are the bumblings of the Iemma state government, Lebanese surfers, trapped miners, Labor Party factionalism, Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce and a tribute to 10 years of the Howard government.
But Phil Scott’s enduring impersonation of bushy-browed Howard, as featured in all previous Revues, will be missing from this season. Scott, who also co-wrote and musically directed the show, had to withdraw due to a wrist injury.
Instead, Howard will be seen only in a recorded video at the beginning of the show.
Mercifully, Howard only makes a brief appearance, but I really think after 10 years everyone has seen enough of him, Higgins says.
In the Revue, we take no prisoners and everyone is a target, so all persuasions can come in and enjoy. Once this country loses its ability to laugh at itself, we are in serious trouble, and there are worrying signs that is happening.
Mind you, it is always a good sign when Amanda Vanstone is found hosting The Chaser as she did a few weeks back, so maybe there’s hope yet.
The Wharf Revue: Best We Forget is playing at Wharf 2, Sydney Theatre Company. Bookings on 9250 1777.