Top ten ways to describe New Zealand to Americans
It’s a case of life imitating art or, more precisely, life almost imitating a cult Kiwi musical comedy duo’s US cable TV show.
In the second series of the relentlessly self-deprecating Flight of the Conchords, the New Zealand Prime Minister Brian visits America but is such a non-entity that the closest he comes to meeting Barack Obama is on a public tour of the White House and then later at a party with an Obama impersonator.
In a follow-up episode Brian opens the single dismal exhibit New Zealand Town in New York and insists on providing the commentary while driving the guided tour bus past it himself.
The real New Zealand Prime Minister is currently visiting the US for the big UN pow-wow.
He also has a plan to get noticed and that is to read the Top Ten list on David Letterman’s Late Show.
In doing so he is following in the august steps of Barack Obama and Britney Spears, who have both recently done the venerable gag countdown.
Although he probably won’t copy Britney by wearing a bikini, John Key would still hope his performance will alert possibly millions of unaware Americans, and perhaps some unaware New Zealanders, to his existence and also to New Zealand’s as a potential holiday destination.
As the Letterman writers will struggle with trying to work out what a New Zealand is, I have compiled for them a Top-Ten style list of things Americans should know about the country.
To keep it clean and as a challenge I have avoided references to sexual preference and sheep.
WHAT AMERICANS MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT NEW ZEALAND:
1. Used to be called “New and Improved Zealand”.
2. The exchange rate is one New Zealand for each US dollar.
3. Has three times as many sheep as people and four times as many unemployment offices.
4. The country was actually Photoshopped into existence as a backdrop for the Lord of the Rings films.
5. Contains mythical races such as orcs, hobbits, elves, and female TV news readers over 50.
6. Much of New Zealand is boiling mud. Somehow it smells worse than it looks.
7. To speak authentic New Zealand you substitute every vowel sound with another randomly picked out of a Scrabble set.
8. May actually be part of Australia. No one can find the lease.
9. National costume is the sheepskin ugg boot, tracksuit pants and an old rugby jumper but this is only required for formal state occasions such as jam-making contests.
10. Abolished its armed forces in 1985 and currently defends itself by giving out a false geographic address in the Atlantic Ocean.
(I believe this to be a world record for an Australian talking at length about New Zealand.)
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