Is late-night telly the Key to leadership?
I had a terrible segment at the time where I would interview ‘‘celebrities’’ with the help of an 8-year-old child feeding me questions through an earpiece while the likes of Auckland mayor Len Brown looked confused. (If Len Brown sounds like a good get, he wasn’t. We interviewed him one week before his sex scandal broke).
My second interview was a young, media-savvy, backbench Labour MP called Jacinda Ardern. Wow, was that a dramatic reveal? It was to me.
Just eight years later Ardern became the Prime Minister of New Zealand! Thanks almost entirely to her interview with me.
I’m joking, but after that hidden earpiece interview went well, Ardern became a regular guest on Jono and Ben – appearing at least once a year, she was a guest on my terrible interview segment The Guy Williams Show just months before she became PM.
Will appearing on dodgy late-night shows become a new political tradition for our future leaders? Obviously, it’s not a given it will work, and many MPs have left the 7 Days’ ‘‘Yes Minister’’ segment in a huff.
Almost every failed Labour leader appeared on Jono and Ben: Phil Goff was good, David Shearer tried hard, David Cunliffe refused. We later learned why when we accosted him on the street... it was the right call, the dude was terrifying.
In a special way that only he can, Winston Peters somehow got us into trouble almost every time he appeared on the show. I was surprised at how up for anything Simon Bridges was, and Paula Bennett popping out of nowhere and saying ‘‘come to mummy’’ to me is something that will haunt me for the rest of my life (but it was very funny).
For better or worse, Key and Ardern set a new standard for our politicians, being normal people who can have a laugh at themselves. It’s a high bar we should all aspire to.
Just eight short years after I interviewed Jacinda Ardern on Jono and Ben, she became our leader.