Steve Braunias looks ahead to the year in satire.


Three words, a hyphen, and a girl's name: Jami-Lee Ross. I think I met him once, years ago, a handshake and a looming face, on some campaign trail somewhere - no, not entirely memorable, but who can ever forget him now? He stands with the immortals.

He leaves Todd Barclay and Aaron Gilmore - why are New Zealand's most outstanding dickheads always National Party MPs? - in the dust. With the limited power invested in me as New Zealand's longest-serving newspaper satirist (the Secret Diary, honking its rubber hooter since 2009), I hereby knight him for his services to satire in 2018.

Some people are so ridiculous that they don't leave much for a satirist to play around with or to try to make them funnier than they already are. There's a kind of rigidity about their character and behaviour. But JLR was an artist. He left all of us wanting more; he gave us so much, and yet he left so much to the imagination.


The day of his epic 53-minute press conference was the central event of the ongoing JLR farce but the events leading up to it were also a rich comedy.

He made mention of driving from Auckland to Wellington the day before - mere mortals would have flown, but not the divine hyphen. He dragged it out, made you wonder at his long journey down State Highway 1 ... And so the most I enjoyed myself at the Secret Diary this year was writing about that drive, imagining him performing a slow striptease in Taupo, the Desert Road, Taihape, the Kapiti Coast, arriving in Wellington totally naked and primed for the sexual frenzy of his press conference.

I alerted a senior member of the National Party to that diary. I shan't name my source, of course, but I rather liked their reply after reading my imagined account of JLR's onanistic roadtrip: "You know what's scary? I think the column is almost entirely accurate."

I like that politician. It's a strange thing; I'm such a predictable liberal snowflake, but the MPs who I most like and enjoy spending time with are Tories. The worst are dickheads but the best are good, decent sorts, and possess something that is often so lacking in Labour MPs - a sense of humour. What a pious bunch the Labour lot are! When I satirised first-term chumps Claire Curran and Iain Lees-Galloway, the pleasure I took resembled a form of revenge.

Matthew Hooton took to the Twitter machine and complimented me on my Lees-Galloway diary. That was nice. I was happy to be acknowledged by a right-wing commentator for my attack on that bumbling Commie. But I feel a bit aggrieved that I didn't get the credit I surely deserved for three consecutive diaries on Our Lady of the Holy Nappy, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

I wanted to do a fourth but my editor was against it. It was beginning to look like a campaign, but I was just finding it hard to resist writing up Ardern as the harried homeowner of a house that was quickly going to rack and ruin. I alerted a senior member of the Labour Party to each of those three Ardern diaries.

I shan't name my source, of course, but she replied by text to the first diary: "Sigh." A week later: "Oh sigh." And on week three: "I don't know I am that pleased about being such an inspiration to you."

Ardern texted again a few weeks later when she stepped in as guest editor of the Herald to commemorate 125 years of women getting the vote. She commissioned me to write a diary on Kate Sheppard. It didn't happen - the paper ran out of room - but it was a terrific idea. A friend was aghast, and thought it weird that the Prime Minister would ask a man to parody a woman to mark an important date in woman's suffrage.


Actually I was going to parody the time and the people around Sheppard, that whole conservative scene.

The colleague's objection raised an interesting point about satire in 2018. The sacred cow industry is alive and well; would it have been actually permissible to lampoon Kate Sheppard? What about lampooning people on either side of that intense and intensely personal issue of transgender identity politics? No way. Leave me in peace.

The truth is that I go for safe targets. In 2018, the list included politicians on whichever side of the house, Lauren Southern and that goose Stephen Molyneux, Derek Handley the moaning IT flop, Jan Thomas the Massey vice-chancellor with a massive jones against Don Brash, Clarke bloody Gayford, the royals, Trump, and that bum who had the job before him, Barack wassisname.

Fun and games. Next year marks 10 years of honking a rubber hooter in the services of satire. A bauble in next year's New Year's Honours would be nice. As a senior citizen of newspaper satire, I'm as much a part of the establishment as any of my right honourable subjects.