In the lead up to the election, comedians Melanie Bracewell and Angella Dravid take a journey through the voting process in Make Me Tick, The Spinoff’s new four part video series with the Electoral Commission. Today, Angella contemplates the branches of government.
I went to St Patrick’s School up until the age of 12. I learned a lot of things there but the subject pushed the most was Religious Studies. I learned about the holy shamrock which I thought was irrelevant until I interviewed political journalist Heather du Plessis-Allan. Interviewing has never been my strong suit. Mostly because I’m trying not to look at the person’s face, and my resting face is a mix between someone who shat their pants and has been asked to give an impromptu public speech. I’m aware of it. We all have my parents to thank for the genetic lottery.
Heather explained that government consists of three branches – much like the shamrock. It comprises of parliament, the government, and the judiciary. This made me think of other things that are a whole but are made up of three parts. Like my marriage to my ex-husband, where the third party was our car insurance policy, and the whole was our unfulfilling, dull marriage. Or like a tree with three branches.
When I was asked to be part of this video series with Melanie Bracewell, I was excited and nervous. How do we make videos that are informative, funny, and truthful? Tree. Three Branches. Call back.
We went to Wellington to film inside parliament. We had to go through security and enter via a metal detector. The security guard smiled at me. “[Be] careful of this one. She’s from Jono and Ben.” I put my index finger on his lips and whispered “what’s this behind your ear?” I pulled a $10 bill with Kate Sheppard facing upwards and walked backwards into a cloud of smoke. Call back. Episode one.
Wellington was colder than expected. The weather report didn’t give much indication of what 17 degrees feels like. All I had to go on was previous experiences of cold weather in Auckland (they don’t compare). We had lunch in a place that hung full body caricatures of politicians. A well hung parliament. Dick joke.
The member’s bill biscuit tin had a security escort who made sure we didn’t tamper with the sellotaped label. He said the tin was bought from Deka in the ’80s. I felt oddly patriotic about Deka being part of New Zealand parliamentary history.
We used biscuits to illustrate how voting works and what it takes to get seats in parliament. The room we filmed the biscuit segment in smelled sickly; a mix of chocolate, coconut, toffee, and sugary syrup which made me feel nauseated. I can’t imagine anything worse than being in a parliament debate while the putrid smell of cocoa overwhelms the room. You’d feel the soft rumbling of guts through empty coffee cups, which would resonate and amplify swallowed, guttural vowels. I feel nauseous again.
This video was filmed on my birthday. I turned 31. After the shoot, I took a packet of fingered toffee pops home and sat in my room. I looked in a mirror and thought about life. The toffee pops had melted in my hand. I smeared the chocolate across my brow and thought about the state of New Zealand. The toffee pop that I’d inadvertently sat on was now smudged across my duvet cover. I realised at that point that with my facial expression and the brown stain on my linen, an onlooker would assume I’d shat my bed. The only way I could prove otherwise is to use my voice. And that’s when I realised voting is using your voice, and how important it is to use your voice.
I took a bite from the toffee pop and saw the outer chocolate, the caramel, and the biscuit base. Government is like a toffee pop.
Watch Make Me Tick episode 1, Getting Down With Democracy, here.
The Make Me Tick series is brought to you by the Electoral Commission in collaboration with The Spinoff. Head here now to make sure you’re enrolled and ready to vote on September 23rd, and for any other questions you need answered.