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Humour in Politics

Humour in politics can be difficult. The humour of politicians is usually in inverse proportion to their power and ego.

With Twitter many politicians fire from the lip and expose their twitishness in their twitters. Judith Collins is one who some might say got ahead of herself in the humour stakes and has rowed back her mirth contribution to the twittersphere all the way to the boathouse.

John Key’s humour is mainly about projecting an endearing blokeishness with mildly irritating actions like mincing on a catwalk or banging on about gay red shirts. It works for him with most people. It’s a shtick.

Winston Peter’s humour is all in the delivery and the reaction. His "Two Wong’s don’t make a White" comment was delivered with his trademark grin and shoulder shrug as if to say "This is going to be a little naughty". Really, it’s standard 1970s humour: Morecombe and Wise, Two Ronnies, Benny Hill; nothing remarkable to his target audience.

Winston knew the bien pensant media would bite at the shade of racism in the joke because to most media the whiff of racism (as opposed to, say, the hard , uncomfortable and confronting reality of structural racism) is a scandal to be exploited or a crime of the highest order to be brought to light.

He knew that joke guaranteed national media coverage and positioning with older, more conservative voters aka his base.

The most humorous politician I have had the honour of meeting is Dr Michael Cullen. But I’ve come across one lately who you might also enjoy: Jacinda Adern. I don’t know Jacinda; I’ve met her once or twice. It would be a stretch to say we’re acquainted. It just happens her Facebook humour tickles me.

On seeing a photo of herself looking a bit gormless she posted it with a comment about her listening face being a bit sub-optimal. On having an eye cut out of one of her billboards she commented that "It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye".

 On subsequently having a mouth cut out of one of her billboards she commented "First an eye, and now the mouth? Is someone out there constructing a GIANT ransom note???" On being somewhat prone to geographic embarrassment she amended her slogan from "Ask me anything" to "Ask me anything except for directions". None of this is belly laugh stuff, but it is amusing. Perhaps it indicates a politician who has a healthy sense of self?

I like it. There’s enough to make politics dreary and depressing so a bit of a light touch is a nice touch.

Who is making you laugh this election?

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