Going Viral- a satire for the new normal

2020- What a year! Just when we thought things couldn’t get much worse after the devastating bushfire season, along came COVID-19.

Political satirists, Shortis and Simpson’s one and only show of the year was a fundraiser for the Cobargo community. And then – lockdown! Since then, like all musicians, not a gig in sight.

But Shortis has been busy documenting this bizarre year in a batch of new songs, and now it’s time to let them out and foist them on an innocent public. The result is Going Viral, to be presented at a quirky venue in Fyshwick of all places, an art gallery with a mission to support local acts.

Going Viral is a wry satirical look at the era we’re currently enduring- the days of ‘socialist’ ScoMo and ‘Chairman’ Dan, panic buying and sanitising, the Covid App, social distancing, the lockdown, Zoom etc. And Shortis has read all the Sydney Morning Heralds of 1918-19 to come up with a special song about the Spanish Flu. There are some eerie similarities to our current situation.

Donald Trump of course makes an appearance or two (only Shortis could turn the President’s exact words about swallowing disinfectant into a four part round). And the show will be performed just days after the Presidential election, so there will be ink drying on the page when it comes to that topic. And apparently there are elections in Qld and the ACT.

The coalition’s backing gas. The ALP doesn’t know what it’s backing. Pauline’s giving out stubby holders, Gladys is trying to save koalas, and nothing will save John Barilaro. The only good news is that we have got our own back at the Poms by sending Tony Abbott back where he came from.

So come and join Shortis and Simpson, as they’re let loose from their home studio, intact but feral. They’re still talking to each other at the time of going to press, and they might even get out of their pyjamas for you. The dates are Saturday nights Nov 7 and Nov 14, and Sunday afternoon Nov 29. There is an optional barbecue ($7.50), and a small bar for alcoholic drinks, coffee, tea and cakes. THIS IS THE NEW NORMAL.

The Artists Shed, 88 Wollongong Street Fyshwick, $35.
Sat Nov 7/14, 6.15pm optional barbecue ($7.50), 7pm show.
Sun Nov 29, 1.15pm optional barbecue ($7.50), 2pm show.
Off street parking as well as many spaces on Wollongong Street.
Disabled parking available. No steps.
Seating is at tables. You will only be seated with those in your booking. COVID distancing restrictions apply.



Saving the world

Hand Wash Music


These are six songs of approximately 20 seconds duration that I’ve written for people to sing or play while they wash their hands during the current Coronavirus restrictions. Mostly Moya is on vocals, me on keyboard.

Here are the lyrics, recordings and scores, with the odd explanation.


I just want this song to go viral
I want it spread about
So the whole wide worldly choir’ll scrub
Until the hand wash time is out
I just want this song to go viral
See the Score as a PDF


I reckon
Twenty seconds
Is shorter than you think
By the time this
Little rhyme is
You’ll have flushed your hand wash down the sink.
See the Score as a PDF


This song, it won’t take long
And it’s in a minor key
This tune will be over soon
When my hands are virus-free
No more bacteria
Or pathogens for me
In a minor key
In a minor key.
See the Score as a PDF

As we can’t travel to Europe at the moment, I’ve decided to bring Europe to you with this German version of In a Minor Key. Thanks to Gisela, Karl and Jean-Yves for the German lyrics.

Ein kurzes Lied derart
So Gespielt in Molltonart
Ist gleich dieses Lied vorbei
Sind die Hände virenfrei
Keine kleinen Keime mehr
Oder Krankheit so gemein
In einer Molltonart
In einer Molltonart.
See the Score as a PDF

This is a rewrite of an old children’s song of mine called Washing Blues, also known as Washing Machine on Playschool. These new lyrics are based on the World Health Organisation’s instructions for hand washing.

Rub soap, rub, that’s awesome
And rub post haste
Scrub right over the dorsum
Fingers interlaced
Rub soap, rub, rotational
Never asking why
Rinse, rinse, rinse-pirational
Dry, dry, dry!
See the Score as a PDF

Another bit of Europe brought to you, based on an old satirical song of mine called Je Proteste. Thanks to Jean-Yves for help with the French lyrics.

Je me lave les mains
Je me lave les mains
Le lavabo ou le bidet
Un peu d’eau et je suis prête
Je me lave les mains.
See the Score as a PDF

John Shortis, April 18 2020

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Out of the Cabinet

As usual Shortis and Simpson accompany the annual release of cabinet papers with a show about the relevant years, in this case 1982/83. Go back to the days of 2 litre flagons of wine, a flood of video rental shops, the Women’s Weekly going monthly, and A Country Practice on the tele. Relive highlights like the introduction of the CD, Down Under and the America’s Cup, Hawke becoming PM, No Dams on the Franklin, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Split Enz being banned in the UK because of the Falklands War, Sacred Ground by Goanna, not to mention some memorable quotes from Fred Nile and Bruce Ruxton. All this, plus a rye overview of the cabinet papers by Dr Jim Stokes. It’s very popular, so book early. Details available very soon. Watch this space or see the ad in next week’s Panorama in the Canberra Times. Sat/Sun Feb 4/5 11am/2pm inj the Menzies Room at the National Archives.



 a witty look at the world of wordsmiths

John Shortis’s quirky take on some of the world’s great songs and songwriters, but from the point of view of the lyrics. You’ll hear Shortis waxing lyrical about something he’s
passionate about, Moya singing, and the extra bonus of a couple of spots
created by Peter J. Casey. And their favourite hot band of Ian Blake, Jon Jones and Dave O’Neill.

This time the topic is lyrics and lyricists, and includes songs by the
likes of Dylan, Cohen, Guthrie, Shortis, Lennon, Mercer, Berlin, Hammerstein,
Paul Kelly, Joni Mitchell etc. There’ll be fun segments like Mondegreens,
banned lyrics and much much more.

Imaginative, informative, funny and moving. Don’t miss it.


Final show in the season, at the Q Theatre Queanbeyan,
Fri/Sat Dec 2/3, 8pm, Sun Dec 4, 5pm. Adults$47, $42 conc. and groups, under 26
$37. Bookings 6285 6290 or