Silly Party candidate Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim bus stop F’tang F’tang Olé Biscuit barrel… (Michael Palin) takes Luton in this classic Monty Python sketch. Screenshot

Let’s have a laugh during ‘silly’ season

It’s harder to pick out real headlines from the satire

There’s a classic Monty Python sketch, “Election Night Special,” that I think of during any election period. It’s a great dig at modern campaigns and the pundits who feast off these. The premise is a fast-paced TV play-by-play on election night as the results come in between the Sensible Party, the Silly Party and their splinter group, the Slightly Silly Party.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: Monty Python’s Election Night Special

In Luton (itself an ongoing Python in-joke), Tarquin Fin-tim-lim (his name is edited for brevity) takes the riding, beating Alan Jones of the Sensible Party and the Slightly Silly’s Kevin Phillips-Bong, who gets no votes.

As one of the commentators says, “Luton, normally a very sensible constituency with a high proportion of people who aren’t a bit silly, has gone completely gaga.”

Over in another riding, an unofficial Very Silly candidate joins the mix and wins two votes, or one more than the Silly Party’s margin of loss. As the commentator says, it’s a Sensible victory with the Silly vote being split.

For anyone who’s ever watched an evening of election results, it all rings true, as everything seems blown out of proportion. Such is politics. Watch a few minutes of question period, and you’ll be pulling your hair out at the silly behaviour. I’ve probably done a column along these lines a couple of times, but it begs repeating. Of course, at a time when an elected world leader can say with a straight face that some neo-Nazis are very fine people, maybe we need to put the jokes away, but I’ve often thought that poking the jackboots with witty jabs might be the way to go rather than being drawn into a bloody fistfight.

In Vancouver, Mr. Peanut famously ran for office back in 1974. Monocle and all, he lost but pulled in more than 2,500 votes. Peanut was pushing a platform that included setting up lending libraries for umbrellas and rubber boots, and apparently author William Burroughs even gave him an endorsement.

Then there were the Rhinos, established in the 1960s and surviving through to 1993, that over the years pushed ideas such as repealing the law of gravity, putting the national debt on VISA and counting the Thousand Islands to see if the U.S. had pilfered any. Brian “Godzilla” Salmi tried to revive the Rhinos. If you don’t know Brian, chances are you know someone who does. I recall he ran in my old stomping grounds of the Fraser Valley as Satan. In 1996, he and his friend Ryan Bigge (a former colleague of mine) organized a push to load the Vancouver mayoralty ticket with as many candidates as possible. It was a beautiful site on local cable, watching Mayor Phillip Owen get the same minute or two, alongside challengers such as Barb E. Doll, Zippy the Chimp and my eventual colleague Bigge. I remember the surprise when I started a new job in early 1997 and recognized Bigge from the TV campaign pitch. “Hey, you run for mayor,” I said.

The next spring during the federal election, Bigge wanted to run as a candidate in Vancouver as Bloc Quebecois – not for the Bloc Quebecois, but as Bloc Quebecois. This set off a battle with Elections Canada that ended with his only getting his name on the ballot with Bloc Quebecois inserted as a nickname in the middle of his legal name. However, he persisted on answering the phone for weeks as “Bloc Quebecois speaking,” which provided everyone in the office a good laugh.

The next spring during the federal election, Bigge wanted to run as a candidate in Vancouver as Bloc Quebecois – not for the Bloc Quebecois, but as Bloc Quebecois. This set off a battle with Elections Canada that ended with his only getting his name on the ballot with Bloc Quebecois inserted as a nickname in the middle of his legal name. However, he persisted on answering the phone for weeks as “Bloc Quebecois speaking,” which provided everyone in the office a good laugh.

I realize it’s harder to satirize anything anymore. Even The Onion’s fake headlines have moved away somewhat from politics to more of the absurdities of life, as real news headlines sometimes feel more bizarre than anything a comedy writer can muster up.

Even so, this is called “silly season” for a reason, so let’s have a little more silliness, but do get out and vote.