Thursday December 28, 2017

Seeing the funny side: Satirists take their best shot at the highs, lows and headlines of 2017

Terry Fallis says #MeToo was the biggest issue of the year for him; Amanda Barker says it was year in which women were finally able to "name the thing" and start to move forward.

Terry Fallis says #MeToo was the biggest issue of the year for him; Amanda Barker says it was year in which women were finally able to "name the thing" and start to move forward. (Tim Fallis/amandajbarker.com)

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It was a good year for bad news.

We've weathered instability between the U.S and North Korea; natural disasters around the world; and the tsunami of testimony from victims of harassment and abuse.

But was it at least a better year than 2016, and has it been a good year for satire?

For comedian and actress Amanda Barker, it certainly was. If only because as a woman, she tells guest host Catherine Cullen, all the other years were pretty hard as well. But 2017 was the year when women "can finally name the thing, and hopefully move on."

A tumultuous year can provide ripe material for satirists and comedians, but Barker points to one example where the #MeToo campaign has heightened awareness and left some out of step.

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Russell Peters co-hosted the Junos awards show in April, where he made comments about Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

"I think Russell Peters had a pretty bad year," she says, pointing to his hosting of the Juno Awards in April, where his opening monologue referenced the young girls in the audience as "a felony waiting to happen." He also said he did not know why Mélanie Joly, the Heritage Minister was in attendance, before concluding "but she's hot, so who cares!"

'The thing about comedy is you have to know how to read the room, and he did not read the room — he did not read the room of the nation.' - Amanda Barker

"Are these just bad jokes?" asks guest host Catherine Cullen.

"The thing about comedy is you have to know how to read the room, and he did not read the room — he did not read the room of the nation," Barker says.

"It was not the right time. Maybe three years ago those jokes wouldn't have even surfaced, they wouldn't have even made the radar. I'm so glad to say that this is the year where they did."

Pussyhats at the Women's March

Large protests followed Donald Trump's inauguration as president in January. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Terry Fallis, a writer and satirist, has found the response to revelations of abuse to be galvanizing. He thinks the election of Donald Trump in particular has woken the U.S. electorate, and if 2018 mid-term elections go badly for Republicans, the president's "own party may accept that their only recourse to save the party is to get on the impeachment express and rid themselves of the Trump millstone around their neck."



On the home front, all three satirists were a little sick of Canada 150, saying that the message of reconciliation got lost in the saturation coverage of celebrations.

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When asked to pick between 2016 and 2017, Tim Fontaine says they were both terrible. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

"We kept hearing that word, the politicians kept saying it, and even our people kept saying it."

"I get it … but at the same time, it's gotta be more than a long, awkward hug," says Tim Fontaine, Editor-in-Grand-Chief of the Walking Eagle News in Winnipeg.

"I want to see action next year. I want to turn reconciliation, into reconcili-action."


This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal.