Satirists at large – Steve Braunias and David Slack

Writer and editor Stephen Stratford (@stephenstra) (blogging at Quote Unquote) joined two of Aotearoa's top satirists to discuss satirical writing at the Auckland Writers Festival. The aforementioned satirists:

  • Steve Braunias, author of Madmen and the always en pointe "The Secret diary of ..." in the NZ Herald
  • David Slack, Metro contributor - known for his splendid satirical obituaries.

And what a sharp-witted triumvirate they were. Stephen kicked off with a great potted history of satire - Juvenal, Jonathan Swift, Private Eye, The Thick of it - into New Zealand's own history - John Clarke, A week of it - McPhail, Gadsby, A. K. Grant, Chris McVeigh (in the audience apparently).

He riffs a bit more:

Steve Braunias is the finest satirist Mount Maunganui has ever produced.

And not only that:

Fielding is the epicentre of New Zealand satire.

Steve Braunias explains his Secret Diairies. They have an inbuilt narrative:

I regard them rather pretentiously as motifs.

How do they choose their victims? David Slack says you don't punch down, you punch up:

Who's asking for it? Who apart from John Key?

Discussion turns to left wing /right wing satire, and Braunias wryly imagines:

Bomber Bradbury but with nuance and jokes, or Chris Trotter with a laugh track.

Cover of Madmen Cover of Smoking in Antarctica Cover of How to watch a bird Cover of Fish of the week Cover of Civilisation
How do people respond to having the mickey taken? Unexpectedly well sometimes. David Slack ended up getting some work from Gareth Morgan:

Sometimes satire is a sort of LinkedIn thing.

and at the Beehive:

Every minister's office is full of cartoons of themself.

We gained insight into writing satire. Steve spoke of:

long slow lugubrious magic ... I don't have a first draft, every line is written one line after the other.

There were SO MANY cracking anecdotes in this session - complaining letters from Judith Collin's family, a tattoo of Paul Holmes,  upsetting Julian Assange, giving it but not being able to take it ...

And as a finale, a well-deserved award for Steve:

Top stuff, satirists. As you were.

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