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Report: Heroes and Heroines of the World Unite

Tue 22 Feb 2005 In: Events

When the phone call came from the organisers of the second annual Great Auckland Central Hero Debate asking me to participate, my brain hit the panic button. Unfortunately, my mouth had already said "yeah sure" in that reactionary fashion that one usually regrets later. It was a little over three weeks before the event was take place at the Classic Comedy Civil Union is your Destiny", with MP Chris Carter and special guest visitor from the UK, Ben Bradshaw, Minister for Nature, Conservation and Fisheries. Ben was flying into town, literally, on the day of the debate. Chris was all tied up doing ministerial things. Preparation be buggered. Steven was right about one thing, though – everyone was indeed very funny. Our team was well and truly outgunned by the opposition, which featured MP Lianne Dalziel as first speaker in a stunning performance of quick wit. Question Time would be a far more compelling listen if Lianne used some of her choicer epithets in the House, although if she did she'd probably find herself ejected faster than a Jason Donovan cassette. Chris kicked off for our team with a collection of homophobic emails and letters he's received over the years. The vitriol contained in some of them would have been disturbing had they not been written in badly spelt large type with a marker pen, and their content obsessed with bum sex. They also had a propensity for writing in CAPITAL LETTERS TO EMPHASISE THEIR POINT, which suggests they're keen followers of the David Lane/Society for the Promotion of Community Standards blog on Scoop. Many of the local references were lost on poor Ben, particularly the Destiny Church, because there's no such thing as fundamentalist Christianity in England outside of comedy panto. He suffered through the evening being referred to as a Hugh Grant look-alike – apparently the gay press in England did a survey which rated him as the most shaggable MP in the British Isles. Chris ill-advisedly wondered why the same thing has never happened for him. Former Labour Party president Maryan Street was second-up for the negative team, and she'd done all her research on Ben beforehand. She knew all about his portfolio and dealings with the media on conservation issues, but by this point in the evening the bottomless bottles of sparkling wine which kept appearing on our tables were beginning to take their toll and all I managed to comprehend were references to “oily fish”. Needless to say, when I got up to speak, making references about said fish in questionable taste to an audience full of lesbians probably wasn't the best career move. Neither was the bit in MC Judith Tizard's intro clipped from my review of Pollyfilla's show where I said I didn't "get" drag. Buckwheat was one of the judges. I knew the acerbic Good Morning and bFM film reviewer Steven Gray was following me in the speaking order, and I was trying not to think about it. To say the man has a biting wit would be the greatest underestimation since Peter Dunne's worm-turning performance at the last election. Luckily I managed to escape the evening with only a few barbed references to being John Banks' love child, which I have to admit holds a certain kind of disturbing appeal. So yes, it was a well-deserved landslide victory for the negative team, who did everything they could to suck up to the judges and the audience. They sang songs. They threw Minties into the crowd, although former governor-general Dame Catherine Tizard (another one of the judges) reminded the audience to be careful because teeth get pulled out easily if you eat too many of them. Lianne was speaker of the night, followed by Stephen, and Buckwheat deserves a special mention for her adjudicator's notes. If a family full of pastors and religious people can produce such sparkling wit (and beauty), maybe there is a point to going to church after all. The Hero Debate is a fun event and a great addition to the Hero calendar. One can only hope the audience had as much fun watching (and heckling) as we did performing. Chris Banks - 22nd February 2005    

Credit: Chris Banks

First published: Tuesday, 22nd February 2005 - 12:00pm

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