Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Sydney Wharf Review, tropes and good satire - even just humour

Cleaning the kitchen, I was listening to the Wharf Review on ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Radio National. For those who don't know it, the Wharf Review is something of a Sydney institution, a musical satirical review program on the events of the last year. It was a favourite of my little family. I used to listen with them, sometimes smiling, sometimes grimacing for my humour was nhot the same as theirs.

I had not had contact with the Review for many years so left it on while I cleaned the kitchen mess. Then I turned it off. A little later, I turned the radio on again, feeling that I should listen, only to turn it off after ten minutes. 

My problem was the constant repetition of  tropes designed to appeal to the particular audience that the Review attracts. It is relatively easy to achieve a laugh by exaggerating features that the audience knows and is opposed too, that are already a matter of common discussion among particular groups. I just found it boring. 

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I think that the measure of good satire is the extent to which it appeals to a relatively uninvolved audience.    


Ramana Rajgopaul said...

The problem with satire on the TV or radio is that it usually becomes hyperbole and irritates rather than amuses.

marcellous said...

You're out of the loop, Jim!

Haven't been to the WR for years. Remember seeing a version on TV a few years ago and feeling faintly underwhelmed but in truth I think it is best as a live experience. There's even more lost by the time we are reduced to a sound track. Biggins and Forsyth, in particular, are professionally funny in visual ways.

But I'm not sure I can agree with you about satire. The most effective satire is usually that which can lever off a shared point of view amongst the audience about the objects of satire. Satire never converted anyone or changed anyone's mind, though it can sometimes whip up or ride a wave.

tbh WR is only very gentle satire, it's mostly topical comical impersonation. The fun is being there (yes, with a like-minded crown selected mostly by now by people who've been in previous years) and seeing what they can rustle up before your eyes from this year's material.