Mark Swivel describes his show Alternative Prime Minister as a slightly drunk TED talk. That pretty much nails it. It’s comedy, sure. Swivel understands how to lay in setups for later punchlines, how to roll with the moment when an audience member interjects, how to sell a premise and all that good stuff. But in amongst the humour are a lot of damn good ideas for a better Australia. Swivel takes a look at Australian politics and what’s missing – either from political discourse in general or just what’s missing from Canberra’s version of that discourse – taking plenty of jabs at Peter Dutton in the process (and Bill Shorten’s pronunciation of ‘th’ doesn’t escape without a few punches either).
But the centrepiece of Swivel’s show is his Ten Point Plan For A Country Worth Living In, which contains so many good, pursuable ideas underneath the jokes that at times it does feel more like a TED talk than a comedy show. Swivel puts forth an idea that leaves space for both the left and the right without seeming centrist, even when it’s clear where his political sentiments lie.
As a comedian, Swivel hits that fine balance between not talking down to anyone in the audience but also throwing in some brainier jokes for the supergeeks out there. It’s a tricky balance to get right and he never alienates one age group while making a reference for the benefit of another. It’s a really fun show, and it could further benefit from more multimedia content – say, a nice thorough PowerPoint presentation instead of the brief snippets displayed in the show. The material itself is sharp enough to stand on its own but at the same time, it deserves to be couched in the perfect presentation. Swivel has presented a really informative, intelligent and funny show packed with great ideas but with the potential to be even better with snazzier production.
By Peter Hodgson