Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Front Fell Off

This has to be one of the funniest comedy routines I have ever seen. It’s so well done that I never grow tired of seeing it again.

As background, the team of John Clarke and Bryan Dawe have appeared on a weekly TV news program in Australia for better than 20 years.

They do a three-minute satirical interview of someone important discussing a current event. 

Bryan Dawe is the straight man interviewer.  No hamming it up. Just-the-facts type questions. No obvious softball questions. 

John Clarke plays the interviewee, not an impersonation, but perhaps including a signature quirk of the real person, perhaps a hat, or sunglasses, or other unique trait.

The typical interview seems to unfold in three parts:
  1. Introduction and overly-solicitous greeting… “It’s nice to have you here…”
  2. Funny interview
  3. Announcement that “Time is up” and we get to see what a jerk the interviewee really is.
This episode is a political satire interview of Australian Senator Bob Collins, the Minister for Shipping in 1991.

You can find the interview at YouTube  and audio  www.mrjohnclarke.com.

The following is my transcription:

Interviewer:  Senator Collins thanks for coming in.

Senator Collins:  It’s a great pleasure, thank you.

Int:  This ship that was involved in the incident off Western Australia this week...

Sen:  Yeah, the one the front fell off?

Int:  Yeah

Sen:  That’s not very typical, I’d like to make that point.

Int:  Well, how is it untypical?

Sen:  Well, there are a lot of these ships going around the world all the time, and very seldom does anything like this happen ... I just don’t want people thinking that tankers aren’t safe.

Int:  Was this tanker safe?

Sen:  Well I was thinking more about the other ones...

Int:  The ones that are safe,,,

Sen:  Yeah,,, the ones the front doesn’t fall off.  

Int:  Well, if this wasn’t safe, why did it have 80,000 tonnes of oil on it?
Sen:  Well, I'm not saying it wasn't safe, it's just perhaps not quite as safe as some of the other ones.

Int:  Why?

Sen:  Well, some of them are built so the front doesn't fall off at all.

Int:  Wasn't this built so the front wouldn't fall off?

Sen:  Well, obviously not.

Int: "How do you know?"

Sen:  Well, ‘cause the front fell off, and 20,000 tons of crude oil spilled into the sea, caught fire.  It's a bit of a give-away."  I would just like to make the point that that is not normal.

Int:  Well, what sort of standards are these oil tankers built to?

Sen:  Oh, very rigorous ... maritime engineering standards.

Int:  What sort of things?

Sen:  Well the front’s not supposed to fall off, for a start.

Int:  And what other things?

Sen:  Well, there are ... regulations governing the materials they can be made of

Int:  What materials?

Sen: Well, Cardboard’s out

Int:  And?

Sen: ...No cardboard derivatives...

Int:   Like paper?

Sen:. ... No paper, no string, no cellotape. ...

Int:  Rubber?

Sen:  No, rubber’s out .. Um, They've got to have a steering wheel. There's a minimum crew requirement."

Int:  What's the minimum crew?

Sen:  Oh,… one, I suppose.

Int:   So, the allegations that they are just designed to carry as much oil a possible and to hell with the consequences, I mean that’s ludicrous...

Sen:  Ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous.  These are very, very strong vessels

Int:  So what happened in this case?

Sen:  Well, the front fell off in this case by all means, but that’s very unusual.

Int:  But Senator Collins, why did the front bit fall off?

Sen:  Well, a wave hit it.

Int:  A wave hit it?

Sen:  A wave hit the ship.

Int:  Is that unusual?

Sen:  Oh, yeah...  At sea? ...Chance in a million.

Int:  So what do you do to protect the environment in cases like this?

Sen:  Well, the ship was towed outside the environment.

Int:  Into another environment....

Sen:  No, no, no. it’s been towed beyond the environment, it’s not in the environment

Int:  Yeah, but from one environment to another environment.

Sen:  No, it’s beyond the environment, it’s not in an environment. It has been towed beyond the environment.

Int:  Well,  what’s out there?

Sen:  Nothing’s out there...

Int:  Well there must be something out there

Sen:  There is nothing out there... all there is .... is sea ...and birds ....and fish

Int:   And?

Sen:  And 20,000 tons of crude oil

Int:   And what else?

Sen:  And a fire

Int:   And anything else?

Sen:  And the part of the ship that the front fell off, but there’s nothing else out there.

Int:   Senator Collins thanks for joining us.

Sen:  It’s a complete void

Int:   Yeah,  We’re out time

Sen:  The environment’s perfectly safe.  .... We’re out of time?..  Can you book me a cab?

Int:  But didn’t you come in a commonwealth car?

Sen: Yes, I did, but

Int:  What happened?

Sen: The front fell off

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