Despite politics closely resembling an episode of The Walking Dead, watching Bill English unleash his anti-charisma on New Zealand is still compulsive viewing for his statistics, policies and, of course, jokes going down like lead balloons. Will his set-list be predictable, or are there surprises in store? If there are broken promises, his excuses could lead to brilliant memes.
His first budget response as Labour leader should follow up with some decent hits on policy, but then again, it’s Labour — they could end up heckling each other. A high-energy act, he’ll have to be careful not to go over the top, but as any comedian will tell ya, high energy after a low-energy act can win over a crowd. Will probably open with SkyCity (always a classic) and head into housing, but will need a good finisher to end on a high.
Metiria, Russel or James Shaw will probably deliver the Greens’ response, but Gareth Hughes has an interesting ability to really throw kidney punches in his Budget speeches. Maybe it’s the old protestor in him rising to the occasion, or maybe he only wears his “Sharks! Sharks! Sharks!” boxers for special occasions.
Pity Sam Lotu-Iiga. As Minister of Pacific Island Affairs, he’s got to defend a Budget that won’t be great for Pacific Islanders against several strong speakers, and Carmel Sepuloni has been waiting longer than most to unleash. Remember your island mate from school whose older sister used to own him? That’s what this is, with a side of West Auckland justice thrown in.
Included here not necessarily for his speech, but for the ensuing heckling that will come as the military items of the budget have to be supported. Added comedy will be found if Trevor Mallard is in charge of the room at that point, and there’s a good chance this is where it will descend into farce.
Pray to the comedy gods that Marama Fox is allowed to deliver the Māori Party’s response. She’s fearless, her gift for metaphor is underappreciated, and she could steal the whole show if she goes rogue.
Still compulsory viewing after all these years, a Winston Peters special is a surreal master class in comedy. Will there be props? Impressions? Spinning bowties? And how obscure will the references get? Watch the room refill in preparation for his response.
Peter Dunne claiming credit for all non-controversial policies, David Seymour exclaiming on the brilliance of National policies that clash with ACT, David Cunliffe standing up, Catherine Delahunty almost swearing while owning a heckler, Barbara Stewart’s face while Winston is talking.
James Nokise’s Big Words is on at VK’s Comedy and Blues Bar, 12–16 May, as part of the New Zealand International Comedy Festival.