Dumb deal = dumb satire – We analyse the parodies of Trump and Turnbull’s phone call

It’s been almost impossible not to stumble across a parody transcript of the Trump/Turnbull phone call in the past couple of days, what with topical LOLZ being ten a penny on the internet. Even our nation’s newspapers got in on the act with these pun-tastic front pages:

The best online comedy is short and to the point, with frequent gags to keep the audience from closing the window and heading off to look at something else. New Matilda’s attempt at a Trump/Turnbull transcript got it seriously – and boringly – wrong by re-working now ancient-seeming quotes from Trump’s campaign speeches and generally going on for far too long…

POTUS: This is a dumb deal. I can’t believe how it happened.

PM: (wheeze) The arrangement was agreed between myself and President Obama, he….

POTUS: Obama wasn’t born here. Listen to me, an extremely credible source has called my office and told me that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud. So what he says is UnAmerican. He didn’t exactly have a positive impact on the thugs who so happily and openly destroyed Starbucks in, where was that? Don’t get me wrong, I like him. His wife’s a bit old. I have a great relationship with the blacks, like I said, but they weren’t born here. So the deal is that you send us some more people that weren’t born here right?

PM: That’s correct sir, they are refugees and we’re unable to accept them because they came by boat illegally. Sir and we have a ban on people coming by boat to our country. If they come by boat they can never set foot in Australia, not even to visit family.

POTUS: I know about your boat ban. My people told me about your boat ban (points to Bannon, thumbs up). I like it. I’ve got one here now. I mean from Muslim countries where I don’t have hotels, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you and your old wife, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists….

Also, and kinda like in The Weekly, the writer, Dr Liz Conor, seemed to think that making it sound as much like the real Trump and Turnbull as possible would make this automatically funny. Er, no. You also need to include some jokes. And having Trump constantly call Turnbull “Talcolm” doesn’t count.

We quite liked this, though:

PM Turnbull: Good Afternoon President Trump.

POTUS Trump: (to Spicer) Can you believe this guy, he thinks it’s afternoon.

SPICER: Just go with it. He’s working off an alternative calendar.

Junkee’s Lee Zachariah did a better job, picking up on the manners of speaking and modes of behaviour of Trump, Turnbull and Trump’s team but making it funny:

TURNBULL: And naturally, the people of my country extend their best wishes for a smooth—

TRUMP: [muffled] Steve, put that TV back on CNN. I don’t care if you just like his little moustache, stop watching your videos in the oval office. Use one of the TVs in the bathroom. Don’t disturb the peacock.

TURNBULL: As I was saying, Australia is committed to—

TRUMP: Hold on. [muffled] Reince, what’s the deal with Australia? Do they like me? Uh huh. Right. [clears throat] My people say that Australia changes leaders every two years. Your government is very unstable, very unstable.

In a similar vein, was our old friend Ben Pobjie of Crikey:

MT: Indeed. What I want to talk about is, your predecessor –

DT: The guy from the urban areas. I remember him. Obamacare. Ruined America. Terrible country, America.

MT: … your predecessor agreed with us that the US would take 1200 of the refugees we have in detention and resettle them in your country. I was calling to make sure that that deal still stands. Are we all good, Mr President?

DT: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Saddam Obamacare told you we would take your refugees? Why the hell would we want your refugees? We don’t even want our refugees. Do you even read the news? Do you even have Twitter?

We’re prepared to give Pobjie some points for the Saddam Obamacare gag, although this does highlight the inherent problem with all of these transcripts, and why they’re not exactly side-splittingly hilarious: they have to explain their own premise extremely slowly to get to the anything approaching comedy.

Or, to put it another way, you can’t do a parody of the transcript of a phone call without a lot of scene-setting. You have make it feel like an actual transcript, and have the callers exchange pleasantries and state their positions on the deal they’re discussing. All of which means it takes ages to get a half-decent gag like Saddam Obamacare.

John Birmingham’s AlienSideBoob newsletter took a different tack, by imagining a call between Trump and former Prime Minister Paul Keating, an extract of which he tweeted:

It’s not exactly side-splitting, more a smattering of slightly Keating-esque wordplay and a shitload of swearing, but it’s possibly a better spin on the premise. (We don’t subscribe to AlienSideBoob, so haven’t read the full thing).

Perhaps all these would have been funnier if they were actual sketches? Perhaps Clarke & Dawe are working on one right now? Or The Weekly? Oh no, please not a The Weekly take on this. Forget we said anything. Forget we posted this blog at all.

Oh, and here’s an actual sketch based on this phone call, posted by Junkee. Sketches: maybe not such a great idea either.

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