It was inevitable that at least one of this country’s female comedians would attempt a Julia Gillard impersonation sooner or later. Sure, someone from Double Take did it last year, but with Gillard now running the country there’s a gap in the market – an opportunity to fill the shoes of Anthony Ackroyd, whose Kevin Rudd is no longer required. Step forward Veronica Milsom.
Milsom, latterly of Hungry Beast, appears as Prime Minister Gillard in a video uploaded to the YouTube channel of fellow Hungry Beast cast member Nick Hayden yesterday. After just hours online a user called carlitosm posted the comment:
Laaaaame! (voice ok but writing’s crap).
I agree with carlitosm’s assessment. Milsom may have got the look and the voice pretty much right, but her monologue was only superficially parodic, and it seemed more like a check-list of oft-laughed-at Gillard and Labor government cliches than anything else.
If you want satire with depth on this topic, go to Clarke & Dawe. Their take on Gillard’s first week in power, broadcast last night, captures the language, the speech rhythms and the attitude of Gillard perfectly and hilariously. It also gets plenty of mileage out of the factional dealings that got her the top job, which is far more to the point than references to Tim Mathieson’s hair-dressing skills.
To be fair to Veronica Milsom, this is her first stab at impersonating Gillard, and it may well develop over time. But then again, Milsom has a history of appearing in crap series of sketches that are all roughly the same, so development is not something I think we’ll see.
Gabby Millgate is another one having a crack at becoming the go-to Gillard impersonator:
Millgate’s stuff is better than Milsom’s, but her focus is still on Gillard’s personal circumstances and the media bullshit surrounding it. It’s pretty pointless as satire if that’s as indepth as it gets.
Yeah, both Mil(lgate/som) are doing the “Here’s the general media consensus, and here’s me, exaggerating it slightly,” version of satire. Good point, Bean – satire should subvert the media, not peek over its shoulder and copy its answers.
I’ve come to the conclusion that impressions-based satire is, generally speaking, pretty pointless. So often it turns whoever’s being parodied into a “character”, and once you’ve seen and laughed at that character a few times, you often start to like them – and by extension the real life person.
As good as the scripts often were for Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin, her impression rapidly became just another comedy character, the nadir of which was a “duet” with the actual Palin. Satire shouldn’t be cosy, as that became, it should be angry and pithy. Remove the make-up and the costume, and get it down to the nuts and bolts, as Clarke & Dawe and Britain’s John Bird and John Fortune have done, and you’ve got a much better chance of making good satire.
Only vaguely related, but watching Cup Fever last night, and them getting big laughs from just showing pictures/footage of John Howard, I started thinking of this…
Howard’s media spinning was always a “You may not like me, but I make the tuff decisions, not matter what people think!” portrayal, whereas Rudd/Gillard were/are more “I’m a consultative mediator, and I’ll listen to and respect everyone!” types. It’s easier for the media to get strong reactions from people with the former type of politician, so they try and turn the latter into the former.
By showing a picture of Howard in a silly hat, or The Chaser’s WOE’s many Howard photoshopped pics, or The Glass House mentioning him being a cricket tragic and also having big eyebrows, it buys into the media’s (and Howard’s intended) devisive portrayal, and helps propel the feelings of rage/support among their intended audience. So while the media tries to turn Rudd/Gillard into a devisive type politician, the wannabe satirists like GNW or 7PM or Hungry Beast aid and abet that, despite the jokes not really working because they’re aimed at the wrong type of pollie.
Anyway, a bit rambling, but some thoughts nonetheless.
Have an equally rambling reply…
I agree that after so many years of Howard & Co. the media and a number of comedians had a lot of trouble giving up their treasured – and easy – gags. But I think comedians sorta struggled after so many years of having such obviously right-wing nutbags in power, when along came a government who were doing some of the stuff they’d moaned that Howard never did, but were also incredibly bland in a lot of areas.
Howard had a few things you could get your teeth into as a comedian looking for cheap gags – he was a) a massive dork, and b) a massive right-winger. And these are gags that those who’d been in the business for a while could re-hash from the 80s when Howard led the Liberals the first time around.
Rudd, on the other hand’s, a lot blander – both personally and politically. No wonder everyone got excited when they found out he’d been to that strip joint and had the gall to speak a foreign language fluently. It says a lot about Australians that the main thing people made jokes about with Rudd is that he could speak a foreign language – how we hate those hoity toity intellectual types with their book-learning! Mind you, he was also a patronising, technocratic bore, when he was fully-charged up, and that got a fair old run.
With Gillard it’s kinda interesting that the many female comedians giving her a try (Jackie Loeb’s another to add to our list) are portraying her as a bogan, single-mum-esque-type, having a fling with a hairdresser. Don’t they love the hairdresser thing! And am I alone in thinking the whole way Gillard’s portrayed smacks a little of class snobbery?
P.S. According to Wikipedia, that bloke she’s dating is now a real estate agent – I’m looking forward to someone doing gags about that – they’ll be hilarious!
I started impersonating the Honourable Julia Gillard in 2007 when she was appointed deputy Prime Minister. I am not some new Julia who has jumped on the Julia bandwagon. Nor do I regard my personification of the Prime Minister as ‘bogan’. My approach is to find and embelish a idiosyncratic quality. There is nothing pedestrian about my approach or potrayal. Yes, of course I am going to explore the hairdresser partner angle, it is an honourable profession and I would indeed be a culprit of ‘class snobbery’ to make reference to it. Being Julia is a completely consuming. Well I’m off to JB HiFi to find some speakers for the House!
Thank you for your ill informed and gross generalisations. I love Julia Gillard and it is an honour to serve her.