A Rational Fear
A Rational Fear
Jun 8, 2022
JUDITH NEILSON INSTITUTE LIVE: The Joke Is Mightier Than The Pen
Play • 1 hr 21 min

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G’day Fearmongers —

It is with great thanks to the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas we can bring you this excellent conversation about satire and journalism.

Can satire change the world? Never.
Can satire be more powerful than journalism? Doubtful.
Can satire be journalism? Probably not.

Australia’s top satirists will ask themselves these questions and come up with the same answers during a special live event from A Rational Fear and JNI.

In this episode of A Rational Fear some of Australia’s most available smart arses wrangle with their (questionable) career choices and take a deep dive into satire’s ability to replace journalists at half the price.

Featuring cartoonist Cathy Wilcox, Dylan Behan (Newsfighters), Jan Fran (The Project), Ben Jenkins (The Feed), Lewis Hobba (Triple J), and Dan Ilic (A Rational Fear).

Check out the photos below the podcast links 📸 👇

📺 You can watch the whole video of this even exclusively on the A Rational Fear Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/ARationalFear or keep an eye on the @ARationalFear socials for 1 min snippets over the next few weeks.

Big thanks to everyone at JNI who helped us pull it together.

Cheers

Dan Ilic

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Dan Ilic  0:00  
Dan Ilic here with a pre show announcement to let you know that if you missed out on tickets to the opera house show for our 10 years of irrational fear, you can listen to it now it's on the irrational fear Patreon. So go to patreon.com forward slash irrational fear, become a member and you'll see the post there. The audio is a little dodgy because the recording was recorded at quite a high level. So unfortunately, the really loud music of Paul McDermott we had to cut out but the good news is we're going to try and get him on a nother live show next month, so you'll be able to hear that right here on the free fade podcasts, I think. Yeah, so go to irrational fear.com forward slash patreon to hear our 10 years of irrational fear live show live from the Sydney Opera House. It was astonishing. And let me just say Louis hubbers rant about the Queen's Jubilee was something else. It'll make you feel extremely patriotic. Right now. However, you're going to listen to an incredible live show we did at the Judith Nielsen Institute for journalism and ideas about a month ago, about two weeks before the federal election. This was a show loosely about satire versus journalism. I think it was called The joke is mightier than the pen. And we had some of the best satirist in Sydney. Join us on stage to discuss whether comedy or satire is better than journalism right there in the home the crucible of Australian journalism, which is the Judith Nielsen Institute. So please enjoy this live show. If you were a member of the Patreon you probably would have seen the video of this about a month ago. So as he does this thing you get these live shows a little before everyone else. So please go to patreon.com forward slash irrational fear to get early access to our live shows and our special events. All right, catch you later. We're at the Judith Nielsen Institute. It's beautiful. I'm recording my end of irrational fear I'm gonna go out to the urination. Sovereignty was never said we did a treaty. Let's stop the show.

Simon Chilvers  2:00  
A rational fear contains naughty words like bricks, Canberra, and gum and section 40 of a rational view recommended listening by immature audience.

Dan Ilic  2:13  
Tonight satirists declare themselves so important they don't actually have to be funny. Journalists declares themselves hilarious after putting 10 Dog pugs in a story about hot dogs. If you can wait a Walkley for a wacky headline where's the Walkley for most scathing Trump impression it's 15 days since the next sales 15 days until the next federal election Saturday stadion punch lines, this is irrational fear.

Lewis Hobba  2:42  
And such natural cheers.

Dan Ilic  2:59  
Putting this in putting your cheese in context, Louis and I just did a show the billboard International Comedy Festival in front of 800 people and it was slightly slightly we were used to a slightly different level of cheering

Lewis Hobba  3:11  
every person here is worth 100 Melbournian

Dan Ilic  3:15  
Welcome to a rational fee on your host former host of CBS his Late Late Show Dan Ilic. And this is irrational fear live at the Judith Nielsen Institute

where we'll be asking the question, is the joke mightier than the pen open open brackets? Probably not close brackets question mark. All right now we've put together a Supreme Team of Sydney's satirist to ask this question or to answer this question and what a team it is the very fact that Sydney has like five employed satirists is astonishing. It says a lot about the political comedy industrial complex, doesn't it? Let's meet our female guest tonight. They are a writer, performer, director and podcaster currently slinging topical jokes at the mainstream media from the bastion of the mainstream media. It is SBS is Ben Jenkins What is it like to be so anti authority but being a part of the authority

Ben Jenkins  4:13  
tremendously ironic? I'm really digging into my Amicus roots by producing satire with government money

Dan Ilic  4:23  
and we've got a three time Walkley award winning cartoonist who has jokes his sharpest pencil it's Kathy Wilcox friend of the show have you killed anyone with your with your pencil before?

Cathy Wilcox  4:41  
Look just bugs I guess. infest the scanner and things like that a little wild corruption. Oh, that's

Lewis Hobba  4:50  
when the radical loony kills a duck a day

Dan Ilic  4:59  
and there are comedy created purveyor of wacky clips former Chase aired and the creator of the topical comedy podcasts of news fighters is Dylan Bane Dylan You're a faceless man of satire. How does that feel to have your face out here for once? I've never had this many people in my edit suite in my life. Walkley award winning opinion as to has risen to the heights of becoming one of Australia's greatest ever smart officers. It's Jan January you're at the top now you're Australia's number one smart is what makes me do

Jan Fran  5:35  
you know, I just want to just create human like God like a God, just that sort of thing. I'm the spontaneous flatulence part of just FYI. So you're in for

Dan Ilic  5:49  
and he's the host of Triple J drive. But what sets him apart on this panel is that he is a taller, cheaper Andrew Denton, Lewis Lewis, thanks for being Andrew Denton on this pedal.

Lewis Hobba  6:02  
Thank you. Yeah, I'm the only Andrew Denton who shows up to events and 20

Ben Jenkins  6:07  
if I if I get Andrew Johnson went into the machine with the fly, but it was there was a drop in.

Lewis Hobba  6:13  
Not I'm not in the category of COVID. So he sends me out of his body. Does

Dan Ilic  6:18  
everyone give COVID to limit your immune right now? All right, great. Now tonight as a panel, we as well as you were going to decide on this answer on the question. If jokes are better than journalism, it is a bit of a hard one. But all of us has an important role in this room. Because at the end, we're going to take a poll and then we're going to put it on this sheet which Kathy has designed and then we're going to mail it to the Governor General and it will be then sent to royal assent and we've even got

Unknown Speaker  6:58  
Royal Assent

Lewis Hobba  7:05  
with damping Seto to me I was like I don't know what Royal Assent Was anyone else don't know what royal was

Ben Jenkins  7:10  
like don't worry the sound will fix Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  7:12  
Okay side of royal decent.

Ben Jenkins  7:16  
The office to get to a throne.

Dan Ilic  7:19  
Rolled to said isn't that Prince Andrew? We've actually got our very own special postie. posi. Sarah is here. She's going to take take whatever we decide tonight and mail it direct to the Governor General. It's very exciting. All right. Now before we get into the nitty gritty, I just want to talk to you a little bit about news consumption in Australia. We've done a visit very research heavy, this part of the show. Now first of all, there's some pretty interesting things that are happening with media consumption in Australia right now. And it's all got to do with those damn meddling kids. In 2020, a survey of young people found that social media outrank their family and friends as television as their main source of news. Now this statistic isn't surprising. We all know that young people can't get enough of their damn phones. But when you put it in context of the bigger picture, you can see just how online as a news source has grown across generations with newspapers in the top three news sources for only the pre Boomer generation. That is crazy. Oh, that's older than Lewis. That is pretty astounding effect in 2020. For the first time, online news sources outranked all the other forms of news in terms of consumption for Australians, and also young folks, for the first time, I actually setting the agenda as to how those new sources are being influenced in Australia, which is super interesting. There was no kind of greater moment for satire. I think, though the power of satire. Then, when Facebook turned off the taps to news in Australia, I don't know if you remember this is this is on their platform in 2021. That was about 300 years ago. I think there are people in this room who weren't even born then. In case you don't remember, we made this handy explainer to remind you just what happened.

Rupert Murdoch  9:10  
So why isn't there any news on your Facebook news feed and here's a quick explainer by me Rupert Murdoch left hand on general of the News Corp and assorted expeditionary forces. Now, Mark Zuckerberg owns a website, Facebook, and Google owns a website called Google's and their websites own the data of all Australians who use it, which means they know what you want before you do. They're really good at selling advertising. I own a newspapers that are really bad at selling advertising. And those newspapers own the Australian Government and the Australian government makes laws so one day on a whim I thought Geez Louise with bad at selling air, everyone 60 month interest free deals for electrical computers furniture, bedding and flooring from Harvey Norman. Some people want magnetic lashes mailings that make your bum pop and other. We have no idea. But then I said to myself, Rupert, you own a good government, just sitting there doing nothing. Maybe you can get them to force the blokes with the websites that are good at selling ads to give us money. Then I called the government to my house by private jet made them pay for it. And I said, Hello, government, man, I forget their names. If you still enjoy being the government, can you do this? And they said, We do still enjoy being the government boss. Yes. And yes, we can do that. Now the websites that are good at selling ads have to by law, give me money. And the best part about it, Googles and Facebooks give the money straight to me tax free, and we wouldn't have it any other way of why start paying tax now. Some journalists would say Oh, but there's no way to guarantee that money will be invested in New Journalism. Well, none of those journalists work for me. I don't hire. You may have noticed Facebook news is back. For now. Zuckerberg told the government is only going to pay us if he feels like it. Well, I respect that. At the end of the day, Facebook, Google and I all agree that we're not going to pay any money. Because why would you? There are a bunch of cowards.

Dan Ilic  11:59  
So, what's this got to do with new satire? Well, on that day, seven out of the 10, top postings from websites on Facebook were news websites, some entertainment news, and there's a couple of satire in there too. But the very following day, nine out of the 10 links posted on Facebook, we're delivering news from satire sites, and the audience is young and you know it. Very lucky to have John here from the chaser. He is one of the one of the slaves of the chaser working for minimum wage fleeing jokes going around it boys tonight. So we got the tutor advocate makeup 12345, the top five The Chaser in six and seven in the budget advocate, and the only one website to not actually be satire in the top 10. On that day was the Penrith Panthers website. And that's arguable, that's arguable it's arguable that they don't satire. Yeah. Do they even exist? pretty astounding stuff there. For folks in the audience who don't know what is a particular advocate. It's like the onion in the outback. It's a satirical newspaper set in the outback. This is their front page for today. I really like this one about elbows latest gaff journalists trick questions backfires, as Alberto is able to name entire Rabbitohs 1971 grand final side. Very good. This is some other headlines from today. Channel Seven reveals Sonia Kruger will stay on after big brother to moderate next leaders debate. This is one from the from a few months back that I love bloke who regularly buys pictures of strangers in pub bathrooms not sure what's inside this vaccine. And this one good is always this one always rolls out whenever there's a bit of gun violence in America, Australia enjoys another peaceful day under the oppressive gun control regime. And of course, there's the chaser and the chaser has very kind of similar sort of deal on their, on their front page as well. Very funny stuff. And thankfully, Charles sent me Charles from the Chase has sent me this data about their audience. And it's pretty astounding to see, you know, 2534 35 to 44, all the way to 54. That's a huge chunk of the audience there. A bunch of those young people will start consuming the chaser and bitter at bat at their age and then continue on for years to come. But let's put it in comparison, the footprints of these kinds of websites to other mainstream media. So SBS who Ben works for on Instagram has 117,000 followers on SBS Instagram. At the very top you've got ABC News.

Lewis Hobba  14:40  
Take that Ben vs loser for SBS.

Dan Ilic  14:47  
ABC is Australia's most trusted news brand, that's for sure. Seven 789,000 followers on Instagram. Does anyone want to hazard a guess as to how many followers that are advocate head to toe, shaking it up two fellas, three and 1000

Jan Fran  15:05  
approaching a male I

Dan Ilic  15:06  
recommend reaching a mil anybody over a male 1.1 It is not under 50,000 followers. They are the biggest news brand on Instagram in Australia.

Lewis Hobba  15:17  
And also they make a delicious beer.

Dan Ilic  15:24  
Yeah, and also in terms of power of satire and kind of communicating ideas. A simple article like carbon capture and storage might get 25,000 clicks on ABC News. But when turned into interesting package with satire and jokes, with juice media, you can get close to a million. So satire reaches audiences. And I want to ask the fear mongers here tonight. Let's talk about it if a scoop falls in the forest, and no one is there to see it doesn't even exist. Do ratings matter here do cliques matter here?

Ben Jenkins  15:58  
Well, as somebody from SPS, I have to say straight away, ratings don't matter. In fact, in fact,

I see ratings in a similar way to golf. The lower you get you win. I'm gonna go on to talk about this. In the little thing I'm talking about, I think when we talk about reach, we still have to talk about what that reach does. Because it's, you know, it's one thing to say, only certain people read this article, but heaps people saw this sketch. What what's it doing for those people? You know, what I mean? Like, like, what information is being conveyed? I'm not saying these things are completely devoid of information. But I am saying that, like, you know, what's the outcome there? Because from the creators point of view, those numbers are wackadoo Gray, like people are watching it, and they're being entertained by it, or at least they're sharing it. I hate watching whatever else, but like, to paraphrase, Tao carob, Derrick hanging from the castle, it's what you do with it, you know what I mean? Like, it's what, what's going on when people are ingesting? That is my question.

Lewis Hobba  17:01  
Yeah. Like the, for example, the like, vaccine joke on the tutor about, you know, men who Beiping is in a bathroom, but won't take the vaccine that was like, you know, that was a great joke. Everyone made that joke at some point. And, but like, No, that is not helping, like you don't like if you sent that to an anti Vaxxer. They're just gonna be like, well, it's just funny, stern fucking joke. And like, don't get me wrong. It's not like you can send them a well reasoned argument that will do it either. But it's kind of like, I don't necessarily think that a satire, satire reaching an audience is the same as satire, teaching an audience and also

Ben Jenkins  17:35  
as as an article like that article that languished on those low numbers like would have had one would hope it's ABC. So you know, it's gonna be good, like, a lot of interesting things that these people wouldn't necessarily have considered or heard. But yeah, I mean, I do think it's like, really interesting that like, this stuff has the cut through that it does. And I think it speaks to as much of the sort of skill and ability of the satirist as much as it does to the lack of talent in Australian media, not NSA. You know what I mean? Like, if this is, I think it's kind of going like that, if that makes sense.

Dan Ilic  18:09  
Yeah, Jen, you make tons of viral kind of videos that go gangbusters. Do you ever dare to look at the analytics to see how long people have watched?

Jan Fran  18:17  
That's all I'm doing? Yes, I think like it to answer the first question. If a scoop falls in the forest, no one hears it, like does it make a sound? Does it land anywhere? The short answer is not really until you need some kind of a baseline to try and decipher the new spectrum. So for example, you can say, oh, Sky News is over here. SBS is over here. Nobody watches either of those things. That doesn't really matter. But they're kind of

pretending Yeah, so I think the importance of of stories or news outlets to exist, even though they don't get a super high audience is just to be able to diversify, I suppose the media landscape, right, because we do have a diversity problem in terms of ownership rather than, you know, cultural or gender diverse.

Lewis Hobba  19:14  
news.com we have the Australian and we have the Guardian male and the Herald. Plenty of news.

Dan Ilic  19:24  
As a subscriber of the Sydney Morning Herald, I feel like sometimes I'm subsidizing your Twitter account.

Cathy Wilcox  19:31  
You probably are. And I would say, you know, whether we whether what I do has cut through or not, is demonstrated by the fact that if I do things that are that are universally critical of the government, they love me. There's, you know, lots of retweets and lots of likes and all the rest of it. And then I do one cartoon about, you know, maybe elbows not not performing as well as he might. So I don't know if it's ringing anyone around. Less occasionally someone might say, okay, fair point, but mostly people. That's really unfair. I mean, the current changes I

Jan Fran  20:08  
have water drops. Very, very

Ben Jenkins  20:11  
often. It's the sort of other side of what you were saying Jen about, like, a diversified media and like, it's, obviously you want a range of views and the media is far more like, I don't mean ethnically diverse, although, I mean, that would be nice. I mean, like, you know, so it's not just one thing, but what comes from having all these little pockets is a siloing effect. And Twitter is really a good example of that where everybody's really solid on their own thing. And so the polarization there of like you making a relatively benign criticism of say the leader of Labour Party all of a sudden they just don't they don't get that from their own internal silos so they think what's happening, she's been turned.

Dan Ilic  20:57  
The only time irrational fear has lost subscribers on Patreon across the month has been the day that we had Joe Hildebrand on so we can make fun of him to his face about new scopes turned to being a green environmental publication. We spent half an hour making jokes to Joe Hildebrand to his face about news Corp's track record on climate change.

Lewis Hobba  21:18  
But I also think that is an interesting point in terms of like satire reaching an audience is because, like, for something like that, for instance, like we we don't make we don't make our living off irrational fear. So that's fine. Like we can go Lewis

Dan Ilic  21:32  
Lewis doesn't make his living rational.

Lewis Hobba  21:36  
Which is lucky because I think I'm about $1,000 in the hole to this podcast. But what all these delicious soft drinks and once again, I'm gonna cheat a bit us sponsoring my lifestyle. Nova like it means like in the future, you may not get your Hildebrand on, right? Because you can't afford to not have that or like there are plenty of satirical places, particularly places like a tutor or whatever, who again, make so much money from beer doesn't matter. But there if you if you are a freelance satirist, you can't afford to piss off your audience, though it's really interesting. It's also finished, which, whereas if you are a journalistic entity, if you're if you're part of a corporation that has some backbone, you actually have the money to fund that.

Jan Fran  22:22  
Yeah, interesting. If you have some backbone? Yeah, that's the big question. This describes

Ben Jenkins  22:28  
as the sub stack effect, which is, you know, that sub stack is like a newsletter service, basically, that allows you to really easily monetize,

Dan Ilic  22:35  
you know, there are three people in this room who know exactly what.

Ben Jenkins  22:40  
So basically, what happens is when when a journalist has a big following or columnist usually has been following, they go fuck this, I'm going to leave my outlet and go to substack get the money directly. And it's super easy to set up and your and your, your audience has to follow you. But what happens is because you're suddenly beholden, not to your editor, and not to your paper, but to the freaks, who give you money, it creates this crazy feedback loop where you start sort of writing more and more to please them and all of a sudden you have 20,000 bosses, and you see those numbers go up and down. So it's like this real time thing where it's like, is this what you want? Is this what you want? Is this what you want?

Dan Ilic  23:15  
And let me know the 372 people that pay for rational fear and Patreon completely. Excellent. All right, ladies and gentlemen and other folks in the room, please give it up for Benji.

Unknown Speaker  23:28  
Oh that was a great point.

Lewis Hobba  23:36  
And stop talking ben Jenkins started.

Ben Jenkins  23:38  
Yes, sir. Look, I'm a bit worried. Reading back over this as I was before you guys walked in that what follows is less an amusing sort of reflection on the nature of political satire and more a full blown mental breakdown. 10 years in the making, unleashed on a crowd who didn't ask for any of this. So please, bear with me because for over a decade in one form or another electron have worked for the chaser. That's where I started. I've worked in the field of political comedy, and only now having been asked to talk to you about it, do I reflect that I have no idea what it's for. And this troubles me and It troubles me. Because political comedy is a mode of comedy that unlike its less serious cousins in the sweeping halls of chuckle Manor seems to insist that it is in fact for something beyond the convenience of laughs goofs Japes, etc, from the comedian to the viewer, there's a worthiness to it inherent in the form that suggests that in the creation and ingestion of satire, something larger than entertainment is taking place. But here's the thing. Every time I try and articulate what that is, I start to sweat. Now there are two cliches that I've been carrying around in my head for the past decade that have been a comfort to me and they are this set. I can change minds where conventional journal journalism cannot, and satire holds the powerful to account. But when I hold these up, due to any kind of serious scrutiny, they fall apart now, just quickly, I just want to say for the purposes of this meltdown, I'm really only concerned with the kind of satire that hyperreactive news cycle style of political comedy, something happens in the world. And within a week, the satirist has released a piece on a week is actually quite long. You know, the headlines you saw there that was a day turn around the work that I do on the feed, that's four days. And whether that takes the form of a sketch or a comedian being serious behind a desk or a monologue or a cartoon or whatever giggle pot, we're putting our insights in and giggle pot is a technical term. So the reason I'm leaving out satirical novels, or films or TV shows is that they represent just a fraction of a fraction of comedy, political comedy currently being produced. And here in Australia, that fraction is basically a rounding error. And because it's really the only game in town, it's also where I've spent most of my career. So I feel qualified for a little mortified to reach the conclusion that when it comes to those two aims, the changing of minds and the holding of powerful to account, this ubiquitous style of political comedy is outside of the gratification of the maker and viewer. Useless. I also want to point out and I do feel this is very important in relation to you, not all hating me that what follows applies just as much to a lot of the stuff that I've produced in my career as it does to everybody else. So let's go Saturdaya changes minds. I want to ask you a question. When was the last time you changed your mind? About anything? No, what brand of home is to buy? Or what stocks to wear? That's something big something like how you feel about climate change, or what party you're vote for, or any of the handfuls of beliefs that make you you. This is an incredibly rare thing to happen to an adult. There's a really good book by an Australian philosopher called element Gordon Smith called stop being reasonable. And I read it a few years ago, and it planted this seed of doubt in my mind, that's the first question she asked in the book, when was the last time that you changed your mind? Because if this has happened to you, in the recent past, this kind of seismic shift in thinking on an issue that we're talking about here, I'll bet it was for something I'll bet it was because of something that happened to you, or to somebody you love, or a lengthy conversation you had, or just the long and boring chipping away at a premise until something just came loose. What I'm willing to bet didn't happen to you on the road to Damascus is that you watch the three minute sketch on the issue and completely changed your thinking. And there was a good reason why I'm skeptical about that. A lot of political comedy is terrible, like Voltaire's remark that the Holy Roman Empire wasn't holding or Roman nor an empire. The overwhelming majority of political comedy is neither political nor comedy. Topical satire has become in essence, the satire is saying the opposite of what they actually believe, but in a hat.

In order to enjoy most modern political comedy, you have to already be on board with the premise from the very start, the audience needs to know that the sadder is hates the people they hate, thinks the things that they think are stupid or stupid and likes the things that they like Tom Lehrer, some of you may know one of most famous satirists in America in the olden days, he had this to say of satire, he said, the audience usually has to be with you, I'm afraid. I always regarded myself as not even preaching to the converted, I was titillating the converted. It is a deeply in curious way of processing the world around us. And what's more leaves zero chance that anyone who doesn't already think as you think will be persuaded that we're gonna be wrong here. I don't think for a moment that good satire reaches across the aisle and some sort of milk toast centrism. But what I am saying is that if we are going to have an endless churn of super partisan satire, where our ideological opponents are pantomime villains, we can also turn around and expect it to do anything but the mild titillation of the already faithful. And this is a point that I keep coming back to that modern political comedy is by its nature, deeply curious. I've said this in writings elsewhere, but one of I believe one of the only truly worthwhile things we can do with the time we're given on Earth is have a nice, long think about how that world works, and how we work and how the people in it work. Modern political comedy discourages that impulse in both the creator and the viewer stranding, both in an endless feedback loop of ever loud louder choruses of I know, right? I know, right? I know. Right? So let's just quickly move on to satire holds the powerful to account this gets repeated a lot. It's the breakfast is the most important meal of the day for political discourse. And it's a matter that I have to admit, I have been skeptical of for a while. One fairly obvious piece of evidence against this is that if the powerful truly were afraid of being held to account by satirical news programs that wouldn't voluntarily appear on quite so many of them. They wouldn't take to social media to share clips where they're lampooned accompanied by self effacing comment, like, not sure about this one, they wouldn't go they wouldn't go out of their way to get photos of themselves with the satirists. but many do. And obviously the satirist themselves were serious about business of holding these people to account they wouldn't pose for these photos. What we have is a relationship that looks less like say, look more like symbiosis than any kind of antagonism. And what's more, if it were true that a student mockery, incisive with the poison pen and all that was in fact a formidable weapon against tyranny, then given the abundance of both satire and tyranny, it shouldn't be difficult to find a real world example of this account holding taking place, but it is difficult, it's incredibly difficult, and why should they be afraid? I mean, the limits of satire as an agent of any kind of meaningful change are fairly well catalogued often by the satirist himself. To quote another long dead person when he founded the establishment Club in 1961. Peter Cook told reporters that he was hoping to modelled on those wonderful Berlin cabarets that did so much to stop the rise of Hitler. And speaking of Hitler, a segue that I really do try to avoid where possible. How did he feel about chaplains? Vicious skewering in The Great Dictator? Well, he fucking loved it. The man own two copies. And speaking about dictators, yeah. Wow. Speaking about dictators, there I go again. Donald Trump changed the satire calculation entirely. The Trump era despite breathless predictions did not prove a boon for the earnest desolating sent in America. A common explanation given was you can no longer ridicule politics because it itself had become so inherently ridiculous, in and of itself, that this was such a popular refrain always seemed faintly stupid to me, because it doesn't even intuitively passes true. Ridiculous, people are in fact quite easy to ridicule. It's right there in the name. But and here's the crucial point for ridicule to be enjoyable and satisfying. The party being ridiculed must be capable of shame. As crusty once said, The saps got to have dignity. It's often said that politicians are so hard to pin down post Trump is because we're living in a post truth universe. But that's gets it wrong. The universe we currently occupy is post shame. people who'd like to talk about the power of satire often invoke the Emperor's New Clothes where only a brave truth telling child is able to voice what the others won't. But the Emperor wears no clothes and the child has right the child, the crowd sees the truth of this and the Emperor is shamed. What Trump showed very clearly is that if the Emperor waits a second until the kid has set his pace, and then says, Yes, I do, actually, and then goes about his day with his cock and balls out a little shit doesn't really have a comeback.

In closing, there's one thing that satire can do. And it's offer the audience a kind of catharsis, to release of emotion of anger or frustration of rage. And while it feels good, but here's my question. Do we really want to be venting that stuff out into the ether isn't the pressure of those feelings, what drives people to make meaningful action to take that rage and focus it on organizing to effect meaningful material change? Because here's the thing, if all we're doing here is making stuff that makes us feel smart, for people who already agree with us with no real impact on those with whom we disagree on the targets of our idea, then all we're really doing is an act of self gratification. And all it really achieves is a kind of temporary, good feeling in the form of a release. And there is a word for that. Thank you. Ranking, ranking, ranking ranking.

Dan Ilic  33:22  
I thought, well, that's strange.

Ben Jenkins  33:27  
I couldn't find my mic.

Dan Ilic  33:31  
Well, that's it for the show. So thanks very much for coming, everyone. That was really great. That was super, super good. Ben, I think about a lot of that stuff all the time. One of the rational fish shows we did was in Baga, we did climb a hill, Syria did a tour of climate vulnerable venues, and bigger was one of them. And it was remarkable after that show, sitting in the pub, having folks come up to us, and thank us for doing the show there because they wanted to laugh about climate change is they'd had like their houses or burned their house. There's like, it's just one of those things where folks were coming up to us in the pub and saying, oh, you know, that was so wonderful to hear jokes about that. And it truly felt for the first time in my 15 year career that we were useful.

Ben Jenkins  34:12  
I do think though, like, I didn't put this in because I was already speaking for 45 minutes. But the other side of catharsis is a galvanizing sense. It's the it's the other side of it. So catharsis is like, you know, from the Greek it means like to purify on purge, it's like a release of something. Whereas like the galvanizing sense is the opposite of that where it actually hardens people in a good way. It makes them stronger, and it makes them feel seen and it makes them feel powerful. So I do think that's an element of it, too,

Dan Ilic  34:41  
which is why we're going to Lismore to do a show it's going to be Trump is an interesting character. A lot of folks when I was in America doing satire for American, the broadcaster over there, were saying to me, Hey, you get it's got to be so good. It's got to be so good to do Trump jokes. You're so lucky Trump's in power As as people who had to make fun of Trump, did you enjoy that period caffeine?

Cathy Wilcox  35:07  
It was it was sort of invigorating in the first place and then exhausting in the second place because you realize that you couldn't keep up with the amount of of stuff that he was doing. You'd be initially you know, waking up extra early to see what had happened overnight and things. And then you'd be going well, I do Trump this week. Well, no, it doesn't really matter if I do Trump this week, because he'll have done he'll do something next week. I can hold off till then. I think there's

Ben Jenkins  35:31  
a deliberate strategy in a way I mean, like, it's always it's always hard to, like, you know, give any kind of credit to him and his inner workings. It's sort of like trying to work in a life of zebra but like,

Cathy Wilcox  35:43  
when octuple lies does end up making a single lie worthless,

Lewis Hobba  35:48  
a strategy, right? Like it was like Joby ocupado said, and he talked about chicken feed, like giving journalists chicken feed to make sure that something to nibble on. There's just like Trump was just like, fucking flog raw, like,

Dan Ilic  35:59  
down the throat of a ghost. There was a lot of folks that suggested that at one particular joke, one bit of satire actually turned Trump into somebody who wanted to run for president. That joke came from Barack Obama in the White House Correspondents Dinner. Let's have a look at that joke and see if you think oh, here we go. Here it is.

Unknown Speaker  36:19  
Donald Trump looks young tonight. Now I know that he's taken some flak lately, but no one is happier. No one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest to them than Donald. And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter. Like did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac? All kidding aside, obviously we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example, seriously, just recently, in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice at the steakhouse, the men's cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around. But you Mr. Trump recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately, you didn't blame Little John or meatloaf.

Unknown Speaker  37:50  
You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kinds of decisions that will keep me up at night

Dan Ilic  38:03  
so angry so that was that was the joke. That was the joke that people said that was the joke that turd Trump to a guy that wanted to run for president and ruin America.

Jan Fran  38:13  
That is so hard to hear. If you watch the roast of donald trump, which I can't remember what year it happened in not too far from when he ran or decided to run for president. There's all these comedians that are like, Haha, you think you're gonna become the president? illusion or, and watching it now in retrospect, you're like, What the fuck are you clowns doing?

Ben Jenkins  38:34  
He was like, the complete opposite of who he was in every single way. It's quite an inspiring story. said he couldn't do it.

Jan Fran  38:43  
That's kind of the problem is that you actually sort of end up exalting the man while what you're trying to do is you know, hold power to account but you make him so much more powerful than if you just said nothing

Ben Jenkins  38:54  
we didn't want to have happen. It is

Lewis Hobba  38:57  
truly impressive that for once a really rich guy managed to become president. A lot of stores real sand look

Dan Ilic  39:05  
terrible. I'm gonna share a sketch that I dislike. I made it in 2016 before Trump was became president, and I just thought, Oh, this is a hilarious hypothetical. What if Trump did become president, and maybe this could be his White House briefing room?

You know what, when President Trump says he's gonna blow up Mars, he's just joking. He's more likely to blow with Venus since that's where women are from incredibly vicious rumors about a sex tape between the First Lady Melania Trump and President Trump in the Lincoln Bedroom. I can assure you that that tape exists, and it will be available for 699. Thank you for your question. The question was, Is it true that it is legal now to ask questions at press conferences? Yes, yes.

Unknown Speaker  39:58  
You're going to jail. If

Dan Ilic  40:02  
the President will not stand by while being called a bully and a misogynist, in fact, he called the Prime Minister of England just this morning and told her to quote, watch her pretty little mouth. There you go. How did you get in? Steve? Get him out. MSNBC is in here again. All right. Really? Yeah, that was my

Lewis Hobba  40:27  
that was not that far off. It was a blow up Mars, but he did invent a Space Force. There was like the misogyny everywhere he did banned people from the press room. That was annoyingly prophetic.

Ben Jenkins  40:41  
Because Sandra Ilitch over here. Yeah.

Dan Ilic  40:44  
But oh, yeah, my I guess my point is like, Oh, well, I made that thinking that was hyperbole, but it obviously just wasn't it was just not for course, first year. Yeah. Next up, please get up for Kathy Wilcox.

Cathy Wilcox  41:06  
Hi, thank you. I'm a little unrehearsed because I'm just waiting for that muse to strike me. And I'll tell you what's happening. As soon as I see the pictures, rather than then put out an argument for whether satire is more powerful than journalism because I kind of exist somewhere on the line between those things, I suppose. Somewhere I have, I have a you know, an ID card that actually calls me a journalist. So maybe, and the workplace, they're called journalists. But, but as a satirist, and a cartoonist, obviously, it's a very dangerous job. And I want to, you know, give you an idea of some of the dangers. I mean, I'm quite apart from getting assassinated, or getting arrested and being, you know, like imprisoned and things like that by regimes like totalitarian regimes and things like that. You know, obviously, that you all know about that. That's truly dangerous. So all I can talk about is the is the thin end of that wedge, you know, the little things that the sorts of dangers that I live in my day to. Day, but you know, she kind of deserved it, because

Ben Jenkins  42:27  
I haven't I have a little drawing that you did for me when my wife was pregnant. Her pregnant with Moses, and I'm there too, and he got shot that might.

Unknown Speaker  42:41  
So I want to

Jan Fran  42:43  
meet him in the car park.

Cathy Wilcox  42:46  
Okay, well, I'm really glad that Ben has introduced the idea of me getting into the room. So we everything that happens after after now is kind of relief anyway. So um, but first of all, the thing is that, that it can be surprising because you're working, especially these days, on your own, from your own house, in your own room, and not actually even in a newsroom, and never even meeting politicians and never going to Canberra and I'm not an insider. And I'm not part of a press gallery. And I've always kind of assume because I'm not one of those sort of upfront out there, cartoonists that I'm not buddies with the politicians and I, and I kind of tell myself that they don't see what I do. So it doesn't matter what I do. The first cartoon Dan, if you'd like to bring up is, is what do we got? We've got the standard rigor. So he when Scott Morrison wanted to know who knew what about the rape of or alleged sorry, rape of Brittany Higgins in in, in an office in Parliament? Phil, I'm relying on you to get to the bottom of who in my office knew what when and then submit your findings in the usual way. And you just may see that there's a super shredder in the background there. The fill in question is one filled Gretchen's a very useful man to the Prime Minister and has been for several years he's been his, you know, his his advisor and to ice and, and he's head of Prime Minister and Cabinet and so forth. So he is the one who, you know, you heard was was tasked with doing this investigation. And here's the one you found out about some weeks, months later. In fact, he had he that he had suspended that investigation, but that nobody had really heard about it. But the weird weird thing about doing this cartoon was that the day that was published I received a phone call. I picked it it's not a number I recognize Yeah. And they're on the phone is Hello Is that Kathy Wilcox? Yes, it is. Phil Gretchen's. I had filed it had been published.

Unknown Speaker  44:54  
Oh, yes, I say. He said I just want Want to let you know that?

Cathy Wilcox  45:03  
I don't normally wear a tie? You dreaming in the cartoon with a tie? Yes, I did. And I know I'm not quite known for not wearing a tie in the shredder.

Lewis Hobba  45:22  
I think we all agree. Everyone knows me, who's been really keeping this very important report. It is my classic open car.

Cathy Wilcox  45:32  
So I said, Well, now that you mentioned it, I have to admit that when I was looking up photo reference to draw you, I did see a number of features of you without a tie. Could I just I was in a hurry. And I just assumed that the ones with the ties were just further down. more full. Yeah. Yes. He said, Well, just don't do it again.

Ben Jenkins  45:57  
I seem everyone in this room is rocking his signature look.

Lewis Hobba  46:05  
There's a cost to Tiktok dance do the gate.

Dan Ilic  46:11  
He said don't do it again. Was it sinister? What was the tone?

Cathy Wilcox  46:14  
I said, I can assure you, I will be very careful not to make that mistake again. And he said, Okay. You know, I'm only joking.

Lewis Hobba  46:28  
The old I'm only joking. Oh

Unknown Speaker  46:30  
mankini the next time.

Cathy Wilcox  46:35  
That was only the first time I ever drew him. So it's so happened as as mentioned, some weeks later, there was some tooing and froing and Senate estimates and so forth. And there was further question about what the Prime Minister knew. And there was further revelation that this, this inquiry had been suspended. So the prime minister hadn't had an answer to it, because, in fact, it had been suspended. And he had been told about that either. So and there were various other things that he hadn't been told about. So if we could flip to the next cartoon, which I consider to be a very good opportunity for a cartoonist who's been possibly possibly joked about with by a very powerful man by the Prime Minister, Australia's most senior public servant, just so everybody knew who I was talking about. The Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet feel Gretchen's does not wear a tie. He told me himself after I wrongly drew him wearing a tie. Now I apologize for this cardinal sin of a cartoonist who just put themselves in a cartoon I've ever seen. You do that outside of there? I've done a few times, but it has to be for a very good reason. This was to

Lewis Hobba  47:44  
put himself in his car. Garfield

Cathy Wilcox  47:50  
recently, I thought, you know, this is an informative cartoon. Recently. The pm didn't know about Britney hignett, Higgins. Right, Mr. Gachon, suspending his inquiry into who knew what the PMO backgrounding journalist about Mr. Higgins partner, where is Phil Gachon tie

Dan Ilic  48:10  
is filled with the Thai

Cathy Wilcox  48:13  
Prime Minister with the Prime Minister around his eyes keeping short making sure that he does a follow up phone call. Did not my dad so wanted to know if he followed up on the phone as he calls you yet. I said I think he's smart enough to know not ever to call. So that was one thing to know that the person is is watching…

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