Comedy, creationism and crass chaps in control

Last updated 15:36 18/07/2014

A few weeks ago I lamented the lack of satire on our television and wanted to know why Jeremy Wells wasn't on our screens more regularly.

And then came last night's 'Late Night Big Breakfast' (TV1, 10.05pm).

Now I'm still left lamenting why there isn't more satire on our television.

I desperately wanted to love LNBB - a satirical show has an important part to play, I think, in functioning democracy. This wasn't satire, however. It was crass jokes, and comedy that went out of fashion in the 1980s.

Okay, it wasn't as bad as 'The Radio' but it wasn't too far from it.

So instead of belly laughs I chuckled a couple of times. The only redeeming feature was Jason Hoyte's piss-take of the horrible medical advertorials that pollute our screens.

That's not going to be enough to get me to watch this tedious nonsense again, though. The rest?

Pardon me if I don't find Asian drivers, dancing negro jokes, camel-toes, or being dicks to guests funny.

The worst part, for me, however was the section featuring Masterchef Nadia Lim.

The delightful Lim started to make a recipe and was interrupted by Hoyte shouting THAT line from 'Once Were Warriors'.

Do I need to spell out why the hell 'cook the man some f****** eggs' -  particularly with it's link to violence against women - might be inappropriate for a male comedian to shout at a visibly shocked female guest?

That Guy - aka Leigh Hart - dominated the show and Jeremy Wells, who is probably our premiere satirical comedian - was left looking like a bit of a dick on the sofa.

I don't know how much he had to do with writing the show, but I'm hoping not much. Because Wells is so much better than this. So much better that it's painful to see him in such turgid pap.

Wells still has it - just listen to his impression of Mike Hosking on Radio Hauraki to understand he can do satire and can do it well.

My heart bleeds that his return to television is in something so godawful that it may be years before he gets another chance.

But enough about something that made me sad and on to something that... er, made me sad - Gloriavale (TV2, 9.30pm).

Gloriavale is a documentary about a Christian cult based on the west coast of the South Island, but largely focussed on Paul Valor and Pearl Hope's 'romance' and nuptials.

Well, when I say romance I mean 'never speaking to each other, praying to god for a name and then asking them to marry you the first time you speak to them'.

Yep, nothing is normal at Gloriavale. Even the wedding itself is utterly bizarre - the couple exchange vows and are then driven off to have sex before the reception by a child driving a mini car.

They then come back to the ceremony to a round of applause - presumably not at the physical joining of their bodies, but at the spiritual joining of their bodies.

And while the behaviour can be chuckled at and may cause us to raise our eyebrows, what actual harm does Gloriavale do?

Paul seemed like a nice kid - he was well-mannered and seemed genuinely excited to be getting married to Pearl. Pearl less-so it has to be said.

Well, there are multiple problems.

The first is the subservience of women within Gloriavale. They are the cooks, the cleaners. They are to do what their husbands tell them to do. They are virtual baby-machines. No contraception here, please God!

The second is that these children are growing up to be told that everything they are doing is being judged. To hear a three-year-old discuss hell with her dad makes my heart break. What kind of life can that kid possibly have?

And let's not get started on their teaching of creationism - although trying to explain how Noah may have managed to get the dinosaurs on the ark provided more laughs than LNBB did (maybe Noah took baby dinosaurs, not the big ones!)

And what about the conveniently ignored history of sexual abuse at Gloriavale? Oops, that didn't make the cut.

It reminded me of Jesus Camp - a documentary that didn't do any editorialising but let the horrors present themselves.

I'm just torn as to whether publicity for a cult like Gloriavale is ever appropriate. If all we do is watch and say nothing then probably not.

So not the greatest night for New Zealand television - and I suspect my thoughts aren't as popular as a Paul Henry sexist 'joke', so let me know what you thought of the two shows!

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