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Claire Trevett: The lol-lights and comedy awards of 2020

4 min read

OPINION:

As Norm Kirk should have said, “all Kiwis really want is someone to laugh at.”

The hunt for the laughs in 2020 was particularly challenging.

In politics, not much good happened to anyone other than Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Her re-election with a full majority in Parliament was the reward for having to contend with all the crap (there is no other word for it, sorry) 2020 unloaded on her desk.

Even the PM admitted she would have been happy to trade in a few seats for a less fraught year.

But amid the dross there were moments of comedy, sparkles of light.
Sometimes we were laughing with the politicians involved – more often at them.
All light relief was welcome and so today we thank them for their services.

Best comedy show (mini-series): Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye, erstwhile leader and deputy of National

2020 saw National suffer a catastrophic collapse, courtesy of forces both external (Covid-19 and Jacinda Ardern) and internal (rogue MPs and the changing of leaders from Mr Unpopular (Simon Bridges) to Mr Who? (Todd Muller) to Mrs What the Hell (Judith Collins).

The Muller–Nikki Kaye reign was brief, but delivered one of the great com-dramas of all time.

The best episode was Kaye’s claim that MP Paul Goldsmith was Māori. That resulted in much scuttling around to try to stack up this claim, a hoot of disbelief from ousted deputy leader Paula Bennett, and in-depth probing of Goldsmith’s family tree.

Eventually Goldsmith clarified he himself was not Māori, but many in his family were due to a great grandfather who had married four women, two of whom were Ngāti Porou, and procreated prolifically.

Award for stamina in a supporting role: National MP Paul Goldsmith’s great-grandfather Charles George Goldsmith.

Cheeriest Christmas message: Tourism Minister Stuart Nash – slip, slop, slap, scan and poo before you go.

As New Zealanders prepared to head to the beaches, Nash was revealing his plans for freedom campers.

The trouble with people in campervans without loos was: “they pull over to the side of the road and they **** in our waterways.”

He himself had never done that, of course. “I always go before I leave home.” Of course you do, Stuart.

The Hunger Games Award: the month of July: July saw heads flying left right and centre. Labour’s David Clark and Iain Lees-Galloway, and National MPs Hamish Walker, Andrew Falloon, Jian Yang, Todd Muller, Amy Adams and Nikki Kaye, all resigned from positions or from Parliament in that month. Some went willingly, others needed a push.

July very nearly also took out Paula Bennett – she quit on June 29.

In the same month, Judith Collins rose. So did her eyebrow.

Stadtler and Waldorf Award for services to judging comedy: Judith Collins’ eyebrows

Asked to explain a rather hyperbolic claim that nobody had escaped from prison while she was Corrections Minister, Collins said she was joking.

That invited the further question of how to distinguish her jokes from her truths.

Collins replied “when my eyebrow goes up it’s a joke.”

Collins despaired enough of the humour of the Press Gallery to broach the topic again in her final speech of the year in Parliament.

“They know that I have a sense of humour, even if they don’t always share it,” she said of the Press Gallery.

Best actor after leaving a leading role: Simon Bridges

The end of his leadership had something of a liberating effect on Simon Bridges.

Having pegged in his occasionally unruly sense of humour for the sake of trying to project a bit of gravitas, Bridges started waving his arms in the air like he just didn’t care.

There was his short film, titled “Simon Bridges, walking with a baby yak.”

There was his musical, a clip of him dancing to mark Cook Islands language day:

He wound up by taking the mickey out of National’s promo videos for Collins’ reshuffle, releasing his bloopers clip instead of the finished product. It showed him breaking into a coughing fit, complete with special effects and dramatic soundtrack.

His social media interactions also improved immensely.

When writer Madeleine Chapman went to Twitter and listed Goldsmith as someone who would trounce her in a fight, Bridges had a strategy for her: “Even though he’s a taekwondo ninja, he’d fight fair. Get him before he’s ready in the fruit & veges and it would be over before it began.”

Bridges was last seen cooking marshmallows with his kids over a camping fire, making a mosaic peacock, and spit-roasting a sheep in his back yard.

I do not kid you.

Award for most political tension: NZ First leader Winston Peters and Green Party co-leader James Shaw

As the end of the awkward trio of Labour, NZ First and the Green Party came to an end, so did any pretence of niceties.

Peters described the Green Party as “unstable and untrustworthy” after they voted for a bill to repeal waka jumping legislation. Shaw described NZ First as “a force of chaos”in Government.

Peters then told voters a Labour–Green Government would be “a nightmare” and said the Greens were “away with the fairies”.

Shaw then did a pre-emptive dance on NZ First’s grave in Parliament, speaking after Peters, he said he was pleased to have been there for what would be Peters’ final speech in Parliament.

The election granted his wish. Or did it? 2023 looms.

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