Greetings from the other side of the world! I am writing this from Adelaide, where I’m working for two weeks as part of a six-week tour of the southern hemisphere. I always find it easier to observe UK politics when I am outside the country, particularly when I am on the totally opposite side of the planet, in a time zone that is ten-and-a-half hours ahead of Britain … so think of this as a message from The Future. OK, not the very far Future, but The Future nonetheless.
Australia as a country is far from perfect. However, they do some things here that could well be copied back home. For example, you can actually buy ethic toilet paper in this country. One brand gives fifty percent of their profits towards building toilets in the Third World. In typically earthy Australian style, their slogan is Wiping Away Poverty’ and the brand is called ‘Who Gives A Crap. I shit you not.
Another initiative here that impressed me was at Perth Airport where I was catching my flight to here. A polling station had been set up next to Departures, to allow early voting in Western Australia state elections, giving people no excuse not to vote because ‘I was out of the country at the time’. Of course, as many of us will be aware, voting is compulsory in Australia, and failure to vote is a punishable offence. I am not sure exactly what the penalty is, but the most severe cases of serial non-voting should be punished by being sent back to England on a boat, not to rot in a prison cell but just to live in a small-minded isolationist country ruled by a non-elected Prime Minister.
2017 is actually proving to be a difficult time for writing comedy. But then, you’d already noticed that about two paragraphs ago. One would have thought that with Brexit, and particularly Donald Trump, the time would be ripe for satire, but actually it is the opposite.
With Theresa May there is not enough to satirise. With Donald Trump, there is far too much. While May is basically Margaret Thatcher without the personality or charisma, Trump is such a walking parody of himself so he is virtually impossible to exaggerate.
Basically, the President is incredibly difficult to satirise, given that his very presence in the White House is like some grotesque comedy sketch gone wrong. Indeed, as many of us will be aware, Trump’s ascension to the White House was predicted as long as twenty years ago in an episode of ‘The Simpsons’ that everyone thought was ridiculously far-fetched. We have all been aware at times when events happen that resemble life imitating art. This is the first time in my political memory when I can remember life imitating a cartoon.
That’s the thing about Trump. He is virtually a cartoon character. Indeed, I think there are a number of cartoon characters who would eminently better Presidents than Trump. Fred Flintstone would doubtless have a much modern attitude to gays and women, Mr Magoo would have a clearer vision for the country’s future and Foghorn Leghorn would have a much less aggressive foreign policy.
Trump’s wife, on the other hand, appears to have walked straight out of a Gerry Anderson puppet show from the 1960s. She would not look at all out of place in Thunderbirds. In many regards, watching the current First Family is almost like a re-run of kids TV from my childhood. And we all now know how many unsavoury characters were involved in kids TV back in those days.
However, if one can take any positives from this car-wreck of a Presidency it is this: I actually believe that in a strange way, in the long term, the election of Donald Trump is going to restore people’s faith in politicians. If he’s done nothing else, he has proved that being a professional politician is not as easy as it looks.
Politics is a bit like stand-up comedy. Everybody thinks it looks easy. Trump in the White House is increasingly looking like some bone-headed drunk heckler at a comedy gig who gets up on stage and proceeds to make a total arse of himself, having previously thought that he was funnier than all the comics at the gig. The irony of course is that Trump is a teetotaller. He’s sober when he is talking all this utter nonsense and coming up with these hair-brained policies. At least Nigel Farage has the excuse – that he is pissed most of the time.
Trump’s impending visit to the UK will not, we are told, include a visit to Scotland. Apparently, his advisors have just informed that a wall was built along the border a few thousand years ago. This means, alas, that the President will not be making a visit to his ancestral home town of Stornoway. While good news to the islanders of Lewis, it’s bad news for all of us who like a good comedy new photo. And what better than watching his ridiculous haystack of a hairdo trying to cope with the ferry crossing from Ullapool, which even on a calm day must be one of the windiest journeys on earth. Perhaps, that is where his psychopathic hatred of wind stems from.
Back home, it appears that Indyref2 is becoming more likely by the day, which is good news for me. Not only was I a ‘yes’ voter in 2014, but it should cure my current writer’s block, as I can simply re-cycle all my old gags from three years ago!
Vladimir McTavish is currently on tour in Australia and New Zealand. On his return home, he will be appearing at Yes Bar in Glasgow on Saturday 25 March at 7.15 as part of the 2017 Glasgow International Comedy Festival.