Tuesday, 6 November 2007

John Howard’s Farewell Party, Rod Quantock, Nov 6, 2007

John Howard’s Farewell Party 
by Rod Quantock
Trades Hall, until Nov 10, 2007

Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Nov 6, 2007

Rod Quantock is getting in early before the federal election results with his new political comedy show, John Howard’s Farewell Party. 

The show is a roast, perhaps even a vivisection, of our possibly outgoing Prime Minister. Quantock might be hoping for a change of government but he regrets the loss of the ceaseless comic potential of the man who power walks like a wombat on two legs.

Quantock greets us individually at the door and invites us to sign a giant farewell card for John Howard. Everybody writes cheerful, cynical messages.

With supreme irony, the party takes place in the Trades Hall, the bastion of the Victoria union movement. The genuinely ugly Old Council Chambers has a shabby, embarrassed retirement party look to it with tinselly farewell banners, strings of cheap party lights and a wall of sensationalist front page headlines arrayed behind Quantock on the stage.

Quantock rambles around hilariously inside his own mind, quipping that perhaps he should have a plan, (all too predictable for him), jotting down reminders for later, scribbling lists of Howard’s sins on a white board and venting his rage at Howard’s government.

Even if you are a Howard supporter, his material is very funny. Political satire plays no favourites. Kevin Rudd gets a serve (“No world leader has ever been called Kevin”), Kim Beasley is dismissed (“Only North Koreans would vote for a man called Kim”) and Mark Latham – well, we all remember his special breed of political madness. But Quantock vents most of his spleen on the little man himself. He conjures all sorts of fates for him including beating him with Alexander Downer.

Quantock creates ridiculous and funny arguments from unrelated topics. He convinces us that Big Brother really is watching and that the information age will eventually control our lives right down to our fridges and toilets. He questions the notions of free market and democracy and reminds us about the government’s absurd cardboard fridge magnet about terrorism.

The topics of satirical observation are far ranging but some of the greatest jokes come from actual letter to the editor from the Adelaide Advertiser. There’s nothing like a genuinely confused argument from a bigot for a laugh.

So if you are hoping for an election defeat but presume the polls are just wrong again, celebrate early with Rod – and commiserate later.

By Kate Herbert

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