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Radio / How Green Was My Cactus

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How Green Was My Cactus is a daily syndicated Australian radio program that has been broadcast since 1986. It is a political satire in the form of a radio play featuring characters that portray the ministers and shadow ministers of the Australian parliament. Each episode lasts two minutes and takes the form of a dialogue between parodies of Australian political figures, although the show frequently lampoons other topical subjects, such as sports (particularly cricket) and well-known television advertisements.

The program commenced in 1986 during the tenure of the Labor Hawke Government in Australia, and featured Bob Hawke as its main character, although the program usually referred to him as "King Bonza the Charismatic" - a reflection of Hawke's larrikin image and populist appeal. The central character has changed with every change of government (or Prime Minister) in Australia.

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The program is the longest-running radio serial in Australian history (passing The ABC radio drama Blue Hills, which ran for twenty-seven years) and is the longest-running radio serial still being broadcast in Australia today.

Includes examples of:

  • Analogy Backfire: Inverted in this exchange:
    Dr. John: The polls are saying we're a viable alternative government.
    Wilson: You're a genius, Dr. John!
    Dr. John: Not really. The polls are saying a bucket of bait is a viable alternative government.
    Wilson: That's what I mean! It's been years since we were on a par with a bucket of bait!
  • Catchphrase:
    • King Bonza: "Oh, what's the bloody use?"
    • Pauline Hatful: "Why is everybody looking at me?
  • Global Ignorance: One of Pauline Hatful's defining traits:
    "England? Dunno where that is, but at least you speak English."
  • Human Resources: Paul Bearer once had a plan to sell off Cactus Island's pensioners to made into soap. Eventually abandoned when he realised it would never pass the Senate:
    "Damn goody-goody Democrats!"
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  • Not So Different: "Boris and Gorby go to McDonald's" is about Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin opening up to western capitalism. Their experience with fast food gives them the following revelation:
    "Is not so different! We stand for ages in queue to get served by pimply little people who work like hell for rotten veggies, and the food is terrible!"
  • Obfuscating Insanity: One sketch has treasurer Paul Bearer wearing a chicken on his head as a means of deflecting questions about the economy. While he was wearing a chicken on his head, not a single person thought to ask him a question about the economy.
  • Off with His Head!: Averted. When the prime minister of Cactus Island (Australia) particularly annoys her, Queen Bessie of Buckinghuge Palace is disappointed that she does not have the same powers as previous monarchs.
    "Phillip, do I still have the power to behead people? Lock them in the tower, perhaps? Punch in the face would do."
  • Prenatal Possessions: According to the obstetrician who delivered him, Liberal leader Dr. John Nuisance was born clutching a bag of gold ducats. In a past life, he'd somehow worked out how to take it with him.
    Interviewer: That must have surprised his mother.
    Doctor: More like shock. You see, he was also wearing skis.
  • Quicksand Sucks: While attempting the lead the Liberal Party out of the political wilderness, Andrew Peewit gets the entire party trapped in quicksand. The sketch ends with Little Johnny sitting down to wait to be rescued, and vanishing completely under the surface.
  • Stunned Silence: Pauline Hatful's press conferences invariably end with her saying something of such breathtaking stupidity that the entire the conference falls silent and the cameras stop clicking. Inevitably followed by Pauline's baffled Catchphrase "Why is everybody looking at me?".
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion : Played straight and then subverted when Little Johnny Howler and John Fosters (the Cactus Island counterparts of Liberal party politicians John Howard and John Elliot) appeared as The Two Johnnies, and Fosters demonstrated that he had no understanding of what actually made the gag work:
    Fosters: A brawl broke out outside Parliament House last night, during which Senator Ros Kelly was punched in the belly...
    Howler: ...the Honorable Barry Jones broke a few bones...
    Fosters: ...and Senator Steele Hall was kicked in the carpark. (beat) Shouldn't that have been 'balls'?
  • Teenage Mutant Samurai Wombats: Occasionally had episodes featuring the "Stone Age Mutant Whinging Liberals".
  • The Unintelligible: King Bonza (a riff on then Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke) evades the questioning of a journalist well known for his gravelly speech by offering him a lolly to chew on, then deliberately misunderstanding his now unintelligible questions.


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