Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Bio-morph – experiments in simultaneous biography No. 7: David (O’)Byrne


David (O’)Byrne is an artist, musician and Tasmanian Labor politician. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but not yet into the ALP Leader Rolling Hall of Fame.

(O’)Byrne could play the guitar, accordion and violin before he was born in Launceston in 1969, owing to a previous birth in Dumbbartlett, Scotland in 1952. Being an adolescent toddler gave him a unique perspective that expressed itself through a passion for the arts and oblique songwriting. He formed the band Talking Heads when he was six years old, producing groundbreaking work such as “More Songs About Buildings and Infrastructure” and “Stop Making Sense”, which was adopted as ALP policy in 2010.

He prefixed the “O” to his name in homage to his hero Barack Obama and to bring his surname in line with that of his sister, Michelle O’Byrne. Contrary to popular belief, (O’)Byrne is a tall man who wears an oversized suit on stage to make himself appear diminished. He has appeared on the ABC’s “The Collectors” showing off the vast array of Short Man jokes he has garnered over the years, including David Bartlett’s witty “I’m going to make you a mini-ster” and the evergreen:

Constituent: “It’s about time you stood up for Franklin”

(O’)Byrne: “I AM standing up!”

According to former band mate Tina Weymouth, (O’)Byrne is left handed yet plays guitar with his right hand. Similarly, he serves in a government with ambidextrous values.

Since the demise of Talking Heads (O’)Byrne has collaborated with self proclaimed “non-musician” and popularly acclaimed “non-politician” Bryan greEno. Their Obama inspired album “My Life with the Ghost of Bush” was applauded for groundbreaking use of samples. (O’)Byrne later expanded on this by sampling Obama’s catch phrase and campaign strategies on the hustings in 2010.

(O’)Byrne embraced the Arts’ portfolio in 2010, only to have it wrested from him later that year. His passion for the arts is legendary. “I love those short, independent films they show on WIN every Saturday at 6.30. That cinema verite style always inspires me. Was it Godard who said that cinema was a man getting struck in the goolies at 24 frames per second?”

He rejects rumours that he longs to be the next ALP leader and Premier of Tasmania. “I just want what the Arts’ Minister’s having”, he asserts.

Tasmania’s Saviour? on You Tube HERE:

• All Bio- Morphs on Lin Thorp, Mr Aird, Kerry O’Brien, Paul Hogan, Doug Parkinson, Brett Whiteley:

• Earlier on Tasmanian Times:
Will Lara be drowned in The Spill. Michael Field warns of Disunity
David and Lara’s Economic Plan for Tasmania: Planning a strong and unique economy

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Ian Bell

    November 23, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    I think this series of articles is simulanteanously hilarious and (intentionaly) ridiculous. The fact that people are getting so upset about a CLEARLY satirically mixed biography of two people with nearly the same name, speaks more about the complainers than the writer or The Tasmanian Times. Splendid work.

  2. Lily Putian

    September 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Where does it say in the article that Mr O’Byrne is short?

  3. Colin Varney

    September 9, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Don’t get me started on Bill Shorten…

  4. Greg James

    August 31, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    The Lesser O’Byrne (is symmpathetic to) Federal Hotels … in the State Cabinet. Let the fun begin.

  5. Harry

    August 29, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Um….this is a joke. A word play on his name….just like the other ones he’s written. Stop taking it all so jolly seriously guys & lighten up!

  6. Leonard Colquhoun

    August 29, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Re Comment 2’s “someone we admire – Bob Brown”.

    Whaddaya mean “we”, paleface?

  7. Ros Barnett

    August 29, 2011 at 11:10 am

    I admit to having a giggle about this one, and my own rule of thumb about this sort of satire is imagining what the ‘victim’ would be thinking/doing when he reads it. O’Byrne Baby Byrne (my own pathetic supplementary joke) would almost certainly make a bid for the original of this cartoon if it came up for auction at some charity gig. I’ve only been in the man’s presence for a few moments at public functions but I suspect he can have a laugh at himself.

    One of the worst parts of growing older is noticing that politicians all look like high school kids. Some time ago this happened with school teachers, nurses, policeman then doctors, and when I start referring to judges as sonny I’ll know I’ve completely lost it.

    This one did not cross my line. The target is a grown up (sort of), in a party worthy of ridicule. I imagine myself asking “David, do you feel bullied by this?”. I reckon TT is pretty safe.

  8. Anne Cadwallader

    August 29, 2011 at 1:20 am

    Well, Trevor at #5, actually there were lots of cartoons and jokes in Nazi Germany (and Stalin’s Russia.) They showed Jewish people with big noses stealing babies and robbing old ladies. It was probably cathartic then too.

    Thats my point, its often a tool of repression, or sterotyping, and we shouldn’t use it or how can we object when its used against us?

    Irish jokes were essentially part of painting the Irish as stupid, which in turn was part of robbing their country blind for centuries, culminating in an horrific famine while England grew fat on their produce.

    Real jokes are life affirming, they do provide catharsis and they can be political. But they don’t rely on personal attacks or stereotypes. As always, the golden rule is do as you would be done by. I don’t think anyone of us would like to be portrayed as stupid, based on their size, or other attributes. If you think the current Labor crop are too intellectually challenged to be in government, or too dishonest and morally defunct, its fine to say so. I would agree. But thats an argument, it relies on evidence, it can be challenged. Ridicule is a schoolyard weapon, its bullying.

    Plenty of wrong actions feel good at the time.
    Thats not a criteria for doing them.

  9. john hayward

    August 28, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    I agree with Trevor,#5.

    Humour is far more civilised and harmless than the the pernicious lies that are the politicians’ stock-in-trade, and it is generally directed toward a culture which appears impervious to shame and embarrassment.

    The need for humour is all the greater in Tas, where the reader of mainstream journalism has to swallow massive doses of humbug on a daily basis. We deserve some sort of catharsis.

    John Hayward

  10. Dana Frost

    August 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Well, I am with Anne C. on this. I actually think Lindsay should pull this piece off the site. Its far more than the height jokes, the whole thing uses someone’s real name and attributes stupid statements to them, it doesn’t work as satire but its just very disrespectful. The recent rash of right wing hate broadcasting against Julia Gillard, the Greens, and in the US against Barack Obama is a dangerous and divisive tactic, often deliberately funded to rouse up hate groups for political gain.
    Tasmanian Times should not be the mirror image of the Tea Party.
    p.s. The cartoon was fine, that makes an actual political point, and politicians accept that as part of the job. Being ridiculed for personal attributes is puerile, but more importantly its wrong.

  11. Trevor K

    August 28, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    You know #2 Anne there is the current Liberal approach – generating angry mobs of troglodytes to spit out hate & venom.

    Then there is humour.

    I think Bob Brown is a bit of a hero but I’ve seen the odd cartoon that has made me giggle. He’s human, not a saint. And don’t get me started on Paul Keating, arguably the best PM we’ve had but you do have to keep a sense of humour.

    I don’t think there were too many political cartoons or jokes in Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Russia.

    I think most decent people prefer humour.

  12. Simon D

    August 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    #2, well yes and no.. For better or worse, politicians are traditionally fair game for satire. Cartoonists exaggerate their physical characteristics in newspapers every day. I accept there are limits, but I don’t think any lines have been crossed here.

  13. Luca Vanzino

    August 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Anne @ 2.

    You are obviously not a fan of ‘The Goodies’ where in one skit they made fun of Bill Oddie having instituted APARTHEIGHT

  14. Anne Cadwallader

    August 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Despite having been occasionally guilty of disrespect in the past, myself, I think this kind of article goes too far.
    It cheapens Tassie Times to just a spleen vehicle, and isn’t even very funny. Bagging someone because of their HEIGHT ?

    There is a really clear cut test of the ethics of writing, even satire writing, that it is fair. That it makes a point relevant to the public debate, with some basis in fact.
    Even more importantly, the golden rule, that you do as you would be done by.
    When horrible misrepresentation or caricaturing of the personality or motives of someone we admire – Bob Brown, or Lindsay Tuffin, for example (smile), we need to have some moral stance on this, or how can we complain? We can’t do this if we haven’t kept some standards of our own.

  15. Simon D

    August 28, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Leave a Reply

To Top