Sami Shah

is a multi-award-winning comedian, writer and journalist.

By this author


Opinion August 07, 2021

Gadfly: Sky sees limits

It’s remarkably hard to get banned from YouTube. The platform hosts more than 500 hours of fresh videos a minute. That’s more content than even the most dedicated teenager in Sydney fighting lockdown boredom can watch in a lifetime. Almost all of that video – 720,000 hours’ worth a day – is of children unboxing toys or biting each other. The remainder is video of Alan Jones being sceptical about vaccines on Sky News.

Opinion July 24, 2021

Gadfly: The Hopkins solution

There is a moment in Alan Moore’s seminal comic book series, Watchmen, when the genius mastermind controlling the world from the shadows reveals that the only thing that can bring humanity together is fear of something new. We are bound most tightly when we are bound by a hatred of the unknown. To that end, he engineers the conclusion of the Cold War by manufacturing evidence of an alien invasion, persuading the proverbial superpowers to unite against a new foe, which doesn’t actually exist.

Opinion July 17, 2021

Gadfly: Kevintervention for your Ruddspiracy theory

We don’t have great conspiracy theories here in Australia. Not compared with Americans, whose conspiracy theories are fantastic in their sheer creativity: an air force base in Nevada is secretly a UFO hangar, the CIA had president John F. Kennedy killed by weaponising grassy knolls, the moon-landing was filmed by Stanley Kubrick on a soundstage, and something metallurgically implausible involving jet fuels and steel beams and 9/11.

Opinion July 10, 2021

Gadfly: Banking on Julia

Joining the Liberal Party has always been an ideologically driven decision. It is a pledge to uphold the values outlined by Robert Menzies  in 1944: traditionalism against the march of modernity, minimising government intervention in the ability of the individual to generate wealth, and a commitment to harassing the daylights out of women while calling yourself things like “big swinging dicks”. It isn’t just a commitment to the party of John Howard, Malcolm Fraser, Harold Holt and Robert Menzies; it's also a commitment to the party of Andrew Laming, Christian Porter, Craig Kelly and Eric Abetz.

Opinion July 03, 2021

Gadfly: Just Joyce

For a politician to get noticed these days, they have to be spectacularly bad at their job. On this principle, the Coalition has produced some of the mightiest figures in Australian political history, characters who will be studied for generations to come, so future leaders can learn just how bad it can get.

Opinion June 26, 2021

Gadfly: Barnaby’s back

Australians have been hankering for a leadership spill for a while now. The memory of the last one is so distant we’ve forgotten what that potent mix of adrenalin and disappointment feels like. Nary a week goes by without someone with a Canberra mailing address shouting about an imminent leadership spill on social media, trying to goad Josh Frydenberg into taking a stab at his boss. That bait has not yet been nibbled, but it has clearly put ideas into the head of Australia’s favourite philanderer. Just a quick spill later and Barnaby Joyce is once again deputy prime minister.

Opinion June 19, 2021

Gadfly: First they
came for Friendlyjordies…

A test of one’s commitment to free speech isn’t fighting for the speech you like but the speech you don’t like. It is inevitable that censorship encroaches from the latter to the former. Never has that maxim been tested more, though, than in the case of Friendlyjordies v the State of New South Wales.

Opinion June 12, 2021

Gadfly: Paterson Twitters on

Electing a political representative is neither a power lightly given nor one that should be casually accepted. Yet too often the personal indulgences of politicians are overlooked. A combination of apathy and lethargy seemingly dictates our lack of response to such leadership failures. As such, it is understandable so few politicians even bother pretending to care for the needs of their electorate. Every now and then though, a politician remembers their duty. Driven by a sense of purpose, or perhaps a deep-seated respect for public office, they stand up and make the moral choice: they trawl through the tweets of ABC journalists to see what they’ve liked or retweeted.

Opinion June 05, 2021

Gadfly: Most cursed city

Remember that sound you heard on Wednesday, the one the seismologists registered, which startled flocks of birds into flight and shattered spectacles and wine glasses? That was Melbourne. That was five million people cursing aloud when they were told that lockdown would be extended for another week.

Opinion May 29, 2021

Gadfly: Outbreak breakouts

During the height of Melbourne’s lockdown last year, many conservative commentators argued we were sacrificing our economy to protect the elderly, who would inevitably just die anyway. The federal government, it seems, has taken up the call for geronticide, even as the economy rebounds. It remains firmly committed to a vaccination strategy that’s been more of a vibe than a rollout, with confusing messaging around who qualifies, when they qualify and why they should avoid AstraZeneca even if they do qualify.

Opinion May 22, 2021

Gadfly: The eye of the storm

It’s been a fairly quiet week for the Morrison government. In the limbo between the budget and next week’s session of parliament, everything’s gone a bit (more) dull in Canberra. We can expect several scandals to break simultaneously on Monday as everyone plays catch-up.

Opinion May 15, 2021

Gadfly: I’m the treasurer … Get me out of here!

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg must have been thrilled to finally provide the government with news coverage that didn’t involve anyone masturbating on a desk in Parliament House, an MP using attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to explain why he hides in bushes or Craig Kelly being Craig Kelly.

Opinion May 08, 2021

Gadfly: Currying favour

If there’s one thing our prime minister loves at the same level that he loves Pentecostal evangelism, it’s Indian food. In fact, I might even wager Scott Morrison loves a curry more than he loves Jesus, given how much more he talks about curries. Over the years, he’s found more uses for curry than MacGyver would have, from an image softener on LinkedIn to a metaphor for multiculturalism in a speech to the armed forces. The man’s never met a pinch of garam masala that he didn’t love.

Opinion May 01, 2021

Gadfly: Are you there, God? It’s me, Morrison

It has long been believed that when God speaks, it is only to prophets, poets and madmen. Now we can add Australian prime ministers to that list. While attending the Australian Christian Churches conference on the Gold Coast last week, Scott Morrison revealed that he and Jenny have been called upon to do God’s work.

Opinion April 24, 2021

Gadfly: ‘A pretty f***ing good milkshake’

Not since John Travolta asked to try the $5 milkshake Uma Thurman ordered at Jack Rabbit Slim’s has anyone cared so much about the cost of a milkshake. But it turns out that prices have gone up a bit since 1994. Now, if you want a milkshake to bring all the boys to your yard, you’d better be willing to spend upwards of $3.7 million. At least that’s what the Australian government paid for a series of educational videos around consent, which somehow involves milkshakes, and tacos.

Opinion April 17, 2021

Gadfly: Not a monster but perhaps a movie villain

Defence Minister Peter Dutton occupies a hallowed place in the culture wars. This is the man who once valiantly decried “cancel culture” and criticised Netflix for removing shows that had racially offensive content by saying “I just don’t think makes any sense”. But it seems the Defence minister has changed his tune on free speech, allegedly issuing defamation threats to some Twitter users.

Opinion April 10, 2021

Gadfly: The Turnbull of the screw

Sometimes, finding a job requires overcoming biases you didn’t even know stood in the way of your gainful employment. Having a non-Anglo name has been shown in repeated studies to hurt one’s chances. Sometimes it can be as simple as being the wrong skin colour. But nothing is more damning, it seems, than being a former prime minister.

Opinion April 03, 2021

Gadfly: Reshuffle kerfuffle and Hillsong scuffle

Until now, the rarely seen but oft-referenced Jenny Morrison was considered the grand vizier behind the prime minister on all issues related to women. Reports suggest she spent her time guiding Scott Morrison away from the rocky outcroppings of misogyny and towards the open seas of empathy, like a reverse siren. Based on recent performances by the PM, though, it’s starting to seem as though her calls are going unheard.

Opinion March 27, 2021

Bloody dull Mofo

It’s hard for art world provocateurs these days, especially with all the competition from Canberra. Parliament is so shocking that the populace is evolving to be more shockproof than an old Nokia 3310. So, artists must think of more creative ways in which they can truly disturb our sensibilities.

Opinion March 27, 2021

Gadfly: Bloody dull Mofo

It’s hard for art world provocateurs these days, especially with all the competition from Canberra. Parliament is so shocking that the populace is evolving to be more shockproof than an old Nokia 3310. So, artists must think of more creative ways in which they can truly disturb our sensibilities. Piss Christ? Done. A self-portrait made from 10 pints of the artist’s own blood? Please, that’s so 1991. A shark preserved in formaldehyde?

 

Opinion March 20, 2021

Gadfly: Sweating bullets as women march on

Thousands upon thousands of women marched across the nation, holding aloft placards and signs demanding change, demanding justice, demanding an end to the chronic lack of safety endemic in their lives. They asked that the government, with all its power and authority, create that change, implement that justice, forge a safer world for them. The government’s response was, at best, indifferent, and at its worst, malicious.

Opinion March 13, 2021

Gadfly: Markle sparkles on racism debacle

If there’s one thing white people hate more than racism, it’s being accused of racism. That racism exists is not really a point of contention. But in nine years of living in Australia, I’m yet to meet anyone who admits to being racist. It’s not that dissimilar to how one in six women experience sexual assault in Australia, but somehow almost no one ever gets arrested for it or found guilty of committing it.

Opinion March 06, 2021

Gadfly: Bursting the Canberra bubble

This is how it should have gone: When allegations of a historical rape made against a cabinet minister come to light, the prime minister steps up and says he’s doing everything in his power to find out what’s alleged to have happened. The accused parliamentarian has been asked to step down until the police decide about an investigation. The prime minister demands an overhaul of the toxic culture of Canberra.

Opinion February 27, 2021

Gadfly: Kelly rocks the boat then jumps ship

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has a complicated relationship with boats. We all know he loves stopping them. He even has a trophy on his desk shaped like a boat with “I stopped these” written on it, lest he ever forgets how much he loves stopping boats. But he also likes making boats go faster, it seems. Once the boat is moving, if he hasn’t stopped it already, he hates things that slow down the boat. Or at least that’s the impression hydroxychloroquine spokesperson Craig Kelly got, as evidenced in his resignation letter handed to the PM this week, which read, “Some of my conduct over recent months has not helped the boat go faster.”

 

Opinion February 20, 2021

Gadfly: Jenny will save us all

Being a politician means learning to carefully deliver sentences that have been crafted by experts who know that everything you say will be parsed and dissected. This is why prime ministers employ speechwriters – people adept at reading the warp and weft of social discourse and threading a path for their boss that will offend few and please many. Prime Minister Scott Morrison really should think of hiring such a person.

Opinion February 13, 2021

Gadfly: Kick in the Ed for systemic racism

Stunning everyone and overturning centuries of tradition, Eddie McGuire has now become the first white Australian ever forced from his job due to a prolonged commitment to racism. This has confused a country accustomed to the established method of dealing with racism in Australia, wherein the victim is pushed out of their job, hounded in the press and media, labelled a “sook” because our discourse is just barely above “I’m rubber and you’re glue, and what bounces off me sticks to you”, before it’s claimed that racism is a thing that happens only in America.

Opinion February 06, 2021

Gadfly: Hosing down reckless Kelly

In the good old days, conspiracy theories were mostly limited to when your uncle had too much to drink at family dinners and would whisper unbelievable things with undue confidence such as: “The world is flat.” Or, “The moon landing was faked, and I don’t care how many people Buzz Aldrin punches."

Opinion January 30, 2021

Gadfly: A long line of thieves

In August 1786, William Roberts of Cornwall was arrested for stealing a little more than two kilograms of yarn. No one knows what he wanted with that much yarn. Whatever the case, the justice system was taking no risks with this yarn aficionado, and sent him to Sydney – a fitting punishment for anyone, even to this day. A few years later, Roberts married Kezia Brown, originally from Gloucester, who had been convicted of stealing clothing. Perhaps the two bonded over their love of fabrics.

Opinion January 23, 2021

Gadfly: A bird in the handcuffs

As America grappled with the coup at the Capitol, Australia began the year with a coo of its own as the whole nation found itself obsessed with the survival of a pigeon. To recap this classic tale of Nanny State v Freedom of Flight, a man named Kevin Celli-Bird – because there is no subtlety in this poorly written reality – found a pigeon in his backyard.