One of Australia’s most revered satire and humour writers has agreed to join The Bug as a full-time contributor. Renee Viellaris will quit her job at The Courier-Mail immediately and her first essays for The Bug are expected to flow from mid-week.
“We’ve had our eye on Renee for some time as her body of work has always been right up there with the very best satirists this country has ever produced,” Bug co-publisher Hugh Morris said.
“But when we read her piece featured on the front page of today’s Courier-Mail about sausage sizzles at Bunnings going to cost a helluva lot more under Labor and its climate change policy, I turned to my co-publisher and simply said: ‘I don’t care how much she costs; we’ve simply got to have this gal!’
“I mean, just look at the structure and flow of her piece. The reader is lured straight in with the notion that charities are going to raise far less money selling sausage sandwiches. You’ve either got that ability or you haven’t. Going to J-School will probably get you a job in the industry but it’s not going to teach you the exotic rhythm of parody that Renee brings naturally to her work; the relentless but brilliant buildup in absurdity that finally shakes a reader by the scruff of the neck and says: ‘Ha, ha. You’ve been taken for a ride sucker!’
“We believe Renee chose to have the story run today in a bid to pre-empt other hilarious fake news items destined to appear on 1 April, just a week away.
“Full marks to Northern Australia Minister, Matt Canavan, too,” Mr Morris said. “At a time most people think politicians just spend their time engaged in slanging matches with their opponents, it’s great to find one like Senator Canavan who was obviously keen to be in on the joke and to help give everyone who reads this story a good laugh.”
Renee told The Bug: “It’s been a fun ride here but I really can’t believe I got under the Courier‘s radar for as long as I did. I think they were too busy looking at what Des Houghton was writing to realise just how much I was taking the mickey.”
Mr Morris said Ms Viellaris’s article today was a masterstroke in comedic structure and timing.
“It starts off with a bit of a teaser about snag prices doubling, a claim based on some apparently obscure hypothetical modelling in some egghead’s policy analysis,” he said.
“Then when you turn to page 7 for the full story you see the innocent smiles of three kiddies holding what the reader automatically calculates to be almost $50 worth of snag sangers, but thankfully missing those potentially fatal fried onions.
“Then Renee gives us heaps of gobbledygook from the ‘report’ she quotes which immediately has readers forming visions of armed guards at their local Bunning barbies and exorbitant prices (pictured) that makes them wonder how they could ever afford to visit the sausage sizzle tent ever again.
“Of course by then, if not shortly after reading it, everyone gets the joke. She’s just a brilliant comedic writer. It’s hard to know who does it better, although Barnaby Joyce tried but failed a few years ago to mine this particular field of humour with his $100 beef roast claim.
“He just didn’t have Renee’s way with words, and she has seldom dipped below peak perfect.
“Who can forget her article a few months back supporting the federal environment minister Melissa Price in debunking climate change and supposed rising sea levels, with those sensational photographs the story used – ones at low tide at that boat ramp on the northern end of the old Hornibrook Highway near Brisbane with century-old black and white pix of fishermen in their tinnies at the same spot near the old bridge pylons, and obviously with high tide just on the turn.
“I mean long-term locals would have got the pisstake straight away. But the way Renee lured her readers in before the knockout blow showed perfect comedic timing. I can still see the front-page photo that accompanied the write-off for the whole article – the one with Price in a pair of wellies and pointing at the water level around her ankles – and, deadset, I still burst out laughing.”
The Bug‘s co-publisher added: “We thought Renee would have to serve out notice at the Courier but Queensland News apparently finally cottoned on to what she was achieving with her work – where her tongue had always been firmly placed – and sent her a terse note that ‘you clearly no longer want to be part of a team devoted to ensuring Bill Shorten never, ever becomes PM’ and let her go immediately.
Asked if The Bug was concerned that The Shovel, Betoota Advocate or The Chaser might have vied for Renee’s supreme talents, Mr Morris said: “No, not at all.
“Renee’s is a once-in-a-lifetime exceptional talent. She’s very very funny and for that reason alone, The Shovel, Betoota Advocate and The Chaser wouldn’t have been interested in her at all, really.”