Random Play by Graham Reid

Alt.Nation: When the laughter ends

The 134th annual meeting of comedy writers and satirists wound up in Auckland last night with what one described as “the end of an era” when the group SATCOM decided it could no longer continue.

“This is a sad day for everyone,” said columnist Jam Hipkins, “but really there is nothing left to write about. With the suggestion that Health Department officials will be monitoring snack food outlets in offices, the success of the anti-smoking legislation, the move against Guy Fawkes and Christmas celebration because they are dangerous and offensive to many, I think we could say we have reached a new level of absurdity that parody cannot compete with.”

Columnist Radar Te Comic agreed: “I used to enjoy writing funny columns but it has been pointed out to me that recently mine have become quite serious.

"Part of the problem is the amusing things, the downright hilarious things in fact, are coming from bureaucrats and people within government.

“No one can really compete with David Benson Pope when it comes to spontaneous absurdity.”

The 40-member SATCOM group has decided to wind up its affairs said chairman Gordon McLaughing as there seemed little point in continuing to try and make people laugh at the foibles of public officials when they [the officials] were doing such a good job of it themselves.

“It was a sad final meeting in many ways, especially when you are in a room full of people who usually try to outdo each other in the quick quip stakes. But even as the wine flowed you could tell a sense of melancholy and morose reflectiveness hung heavy in the air.

“When Tom Scott was called on to speak about the Muldoon Era which he does so well and so often, there was barely a dry eye in the house. Even the days under Norm Kirk offered more scope for satirists than under this current administration.

“The irony is of course that socialists are rarely known for their humour -- and yet this lot have given us more laughs, unintentional or otherwise, than any of the right wing people have ever done.

"Even more than the Exclusive Bretherns.”

Mr McLaughing cited Paintergate, the Pay It Back movement, tennis balls in mouths and anything Trevor Mallard said when he was unmuzzled as all being memorably hilarious.

Writer Graeme Reed who had previously written satirical columns for the Herald and on a well known website said he was feeling quite depressed after the meeting wound up.

“I went home and for a few hours felt there was really no point in going on, the best subjects like the absurdity of politicians and their minions, the topics for rich parody like the hubris of those in government and whacko social legislation, have all been taken away from us.

“I really felt like ending it all, but then I realised it was just that god awful cask wine they serve at SATCOM meetings making me feel that way.

“You know, in a weird kind of way I won’t actually miss having to try to write funny pieces. I might just be happy to sit at home and enjoy the fact that others are doing it for me.

"The only bugger is that these bastards are being paid a shitload of money and we who used to be out there trying to make people laugh never got bugger all, mate.

“Which I suppose explains the cask wine, right?“

The prime minister was unavailable for comment but said through a tight-lipped spokeswoman in a brown suit that “Mallard, Benson Pope and all the rest of that lot wouldn’t be commenting either, and will never again. Not if I can help it".