Perhaps the most damaging bit of media commentary for Labor leader Bill Shorten has been Shaun Micallef’s Shorten Zingers segments, which aired on the ABC’s Mad as Hell. The segments, first thought up by Mad as Hell writer Gary McCaffrie, spoofed the Opposition Leader’s strange cadences, which had him deliver lines like he was delivering a joke, only … what he said was never really a joke.

David Marr’s Quarterly Essay on Shorten, released today, reveals the lengths Shorten went to to play along along with the joke. At a Christmas drinks do last year with the Press Gallery, Shorten declared 2014 the Year of the Zinger. “Which is pleasing, because all of us put a lot of work into them, whether it’s writing them, delivering them, or explaining them afterwards.” And come the Logies in March this year, Shorten recorded an acceptance speech for Mad as Hell, which was nominated for Most Outstanding Light Entertainment Program. Shorten’s script:

“Thank you. I’m going to keep this for myself. I don’t see why I should give it to Shaun Micallef. After all, I’ve been writing half his material.”

The video would be ended with the trademark lion’s roar and the flashing “ZINGER” graphic.

Alas, The Voice ended up taking the gong, so the Shorten video was never aired. More’s the pity.

Peter Fray

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