Real debates about societal problems and ways of fixing them have little to do with elections – which of necessity appeal to the most base and common human drives.

What we have is a Hallmark Hell of platitudes, populism, red herrings and whining.

Spare a thought for those few politicians for whom the behaviour required to win elections is so abhorrent that they develop peculiar lines on their faces that can only have been etched by sickly smiles designed to disguise disgust.

It seems like a gift from the comic gods that the Toilet Saga has become central to this election.

Well for ‘relief’ (you will see in a moment how that joke works in relation to the DA/ANC spat)  from the elections and other bodily discomforts here is one of the finest comic sketches ever to see the stage.

Rowan Atkinson, masterfully combining a sort of pre-Mr Bean goofy prissiness with English reserve plays The Devil welcoming the recent recruits to hell.

Two asides before you click on the link:

  • first, be warned that gentle digs at “the French”, “the Germans”, Christians, lawyers and atheists could, in cases of extreme sensitivity, cause offence;
  • second, I attach the text of the skit below the video, because this is the first time I have embedded a link to YouTube and I have elsewhere experienced the irritation of such links not working for some arcane YouTube management or copyright protection related reason – but it is Atkinson’s delivery that makes it so funny, so watch the video if you can.

The Devil’s Welcoming Speech

Ah hello! It’s nice to see you all here. As the more perceptive of you have probably realised by now, this is Hell, and I am the Devil, good evening, but you can call me Toby, if you like. We try to keep things informal here, as well as infernal. That’s just a little joke of mine. I tell it every time.

Now, you’re all here for….. Eternity! Ooh, which I hardly need tell you is a heck of a long time, so you’ll all get to know each other pretty well by the end.

But for now I’m going to have to split you up in groups.

Will You Stop Screaming!

Thank you.

Now, murderers? Murderers over here, please, thank you. Looters and Pillagers over there. Thieves, if you could join them, and Lawyers, you’re in that lot too.

Fornicators – if you could step forward? My God, there are a lot of you! Could I split you up into Adulterers and the rest? Male adulterers, if you could just form a line in front of that small Guillotine in the corner.

Em… The French, are you here? If you would just like to come down here with the Germans. I’m sure you’ll have plenty to talk about.

Okay, atheists? Atheists over here please. You must be feeling a right bunch of Nitwits. Never mind.

And finally, Christians. Christians? Ah, yes, I’m sorry but I’m afraid the Jews were right. If you would come down here, that would be really fine.

Okay! Right, well are there any questions? Yes. No, I’m afraid there aren’t any toilets. If you read your Bible, you might have seen that it was damnation without relief, so if you did not go before you came, then I’m afraid you’re not going to enjoy yourself very much, but then I believe that’s the idea.

Okay. Well, it’s over to you, Adolf! And I’ll catch you all later at the barbecue. Bye!

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