Sunday, 31 March 2002

Scum Nation - Rod Quantock , March 31, 2002

Scum Nation - Rod Quantock 
Melbourne Town Hall, March 31 to April 21, 2002
Melbourne Comedy Festival
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

I refuse to shift on this. Rod Quantock is still our best political comedian. He may simply be our best comedian.

His new show, Scum Nation, is yet another vitriolic attack on government. John Howard is the patsy this time. After Jeff Kennett went to God (or was it to advertising?) Quantock thought his comic career was over.

Who would be his next target? Then little Johnny Howard stuck his head up and Rod has been doing target practice ever since.

Quantock is a master of audience interaction. He greets us at the door, takes our tickets and taunts us relentlessly. He is merciless with latecomers who are followed up the aisles to their seats and grilled about why they were late.

The show is still low-tech with a whiteboard and a big glossy map of the world. The jokes about chalk versus jumbo, blue whiteboard marker pens are still with him.

His longing for the old days when milk was milk and butter just butter are not just nostalgia but satirical jibes at a culture that cannot keep it simple any more.

He uses the whiteboard to create a time line again from the year dot to the present with the Liberal Party emerging somewhere after the woolly mammoths.
Quantock has a refined capacity to create a mad theory out of two unrelated facts making a new fiction.

He aims his vitriol at our Army recruitment methods, Howard's refugee policy, his riding on the back of the Tampa and September 11. He also has a go at the Australian electorate that put him back in government.

He aims unfriendly fire at our participation in Afghanistan, the Liberals push polling, Japanese whaling 'for scientific purposes'.

He reads from a book quoting the Wisdom of George Bush. Bush needs no editing or gag writing. His own misuse of language is sufficiently idiotic to get laughs.

By the end of the hour, the whiteboard is scrawled with figures and graphs and abuse. We have followed every moment of the trail of blood and rage and jokes.

Quantock is right. God is alive and loves comedy. Why else would he send so much political and social material for a comedian with a conscience?

By Kate Herbert
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