Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Holmes and Lange

Well, it’s happened, just as all of us tall-poppy-chopper-downers expected: Mr Paul Holmes has had his show dumped on Prime television. Oh, dear, and it only cost Prime $3 million to woo him from his old slot on TVNZ. They’re making lots of noises about keeping him on and doing lots of interesting things with him (‘a one-hour special on August 30 featuring Prime Minister Helen Clark and Opposition leader Don Brash’ – that sounds like a load of laughs - see my last post) but I think the day Paul left TVNZ the die was cast.

The peculiar charisma he supposedly had on TVNZ must have had something to do with TVNZ itself. It certainly hasn’t translated over onto Prime. But what on earth did Holmes have? He was an embarrassment to watch, always outclassed by anyone with any degree of dignity, celebrity or nonce, and his flutter-stutter approach when speaking to the camera was like some ancient actress playing a ‘dear old maiden aunt’ in some long-forgotten play in a repertory company touring the provinces.

With all the money he’d made over the years, he should have retired and enjoyed himself and left the pressure of television behind. Sadly, he didn’t seem to be able to do it.

And then in the paper this morning we have more lack of dignity: our former Prime Minister, David Lange, who has always been regarded as a notable ‘wit’ by everyone (except me, apparently), has published his autobiography and filled it with venom and spleen. And precious little of his famous wit, if we are to believe the reports in the papers. Even the title – My Life - shows a considerable lack of originality, let alone humour, least of all wit. Couldn’t he have called it, In Weightier Times? Or, Rogering Roger? Or, perhaps, Will There Be Anyone At My Funeral?

Not after they’ve read this book, it seems.

Michael Bassett, a former Health Minister, who gets slam-dunked in the book, noted:
"I can't think of anybody who has done more destruction to their own reputation than David has done with, by the look of it, that book."

Enough said.

David Farrar mentions Lange's wit on his blog, but his examples don't strike me as being remarkable. Obviously you had to be there. Tom Scott gives some better examples in an interview that appeared in The Listener back in 2004. Perhaps Lange's wit shone out in vivid contrast to the general lack of it in Parliamentary circles - I mean, when did the current Prime Minister last crack a joke, spontaneously, that made us fall about laughing?
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