Friday, June 10, 2005

The Day the Laughter Died

I don't know if anybody was as unfortunate enough as I was to catch Seven's now-axed live "comedy" show, Let Loose Live, but the episode I tuned into - mainly because the man candy who won Dancing With the Stars was hosting it and, you know, I enjoy objectifying buffed heterosexual men wherever I can - was about as funny as bowel cancer.

The selling point was that, as well as the new faces, LLL also had a bunch of "seasoned" funny people. However, that was just one of its many problems: Of all the ex-Fast Forward cast they could have parachuted into the show, they took arguably its two least funny performers, Michael Veitch and Peter Moon. Marvellous Marg Downey was there but totally wasted, left with little to do other than lame Zoot commercial send-ups. I assume Jane Hall was also meant to be a drawcard of hilarity, but let's face it: She wasn't funny in the not-funny "All Together Now", she's not especially talented, she was abominably unprofessional live, and apart from her spunk rat husband Vince Colosimo, she really has very little going for her. That left us with the new faces, who ranged from mediocre at best to "I'd rather set my eyelids on fire than watch them for another second" at worst. One sketch was, literally, five minutes of a young character abusing another woman. And then it finished. Seriously. No punchline, no sustained joke, nothing. The warm-up people at Seven deserve a big pay rise, for getting the audience to appear so genuinely pleased to be there and laugh so uproariously. Maybe they just slip speed in their complimentary OJs as they're walking into the studio.

When and why did Australian television stop being funny? When did we stop taking the piss out of our tall poppies so entertainingly and create our own legendary comedic characters? Between the D-Generation, The Late Show, Fast Forward and even the first series of Full Frontal, we have seen how magnificent Aussie sketch comedy can be. How much poorer a country would we be without Graham and the Colonel? Shitscared? Eleanor La Gore from the Saturday Show belting out "I Was Only 19" with the ABC dancers? Margaret Bland teaching youths how to dance morally? Or Magda Szubanski's unnervingly spot-on impressions of Joan Kirner, Maggie Tabberer etc? Was humorous Australian performers a mere genetic discrepancy that dissolved from the gene pool by 1995?

Now, between series of Kath and Kim, Australia's comedy landscape is a barren place. Seven keeps putting up comedic flop after flop - The Big Bite, Hamish and Andy, Greeks on the Roofs etc. Nine has Comedy Inc which, admittedly, I tuned into the other night and could see had substantially improved since its first season, to the point that I was actually chuckling throughout their Mark Philippoussis piss-take. It still has a long way to go, however. Ten gives us unintentional humour with Big Brother and Australian Idol, but only people to laugh at, not with. Its "Skithouse" show is so appalling that a friend of a friend who's in the cast actually goes around calling it "Shithouse" with everybody else, with no apparent irony. SBS has Pizza which has its moments, but I feel is a few years past its use-by date. And Aunty has Spicks and Specks which is good for a guffaw depending who the special guests are, but ultimately it's just a musical spin on Good News Week, nothing particularly original.

What's sorely lacking is a one-hour sketch show, maybe with a combination of live action and pre-recorded, but that's not essential, that features funny people performing well-written, funny sketches and ridiculing those who deserve to be ridiculed. Let's have good impressions of Russell Crowe, John Howard, Marcia Hines etc. It can't be that hard, can it? Are we just going to assume that when Magda, Jane and Gina finally leave us for the big stand-up gig in the sky, it's the end of funny Australian performers as we know them? Surely there's a bunch of funny and cute Melbourne Uni Law Revue performers itching to take their place. If not, how about a reality TV program to weed out the funny guys and gals? Search for an Australian Sketch Comedy Performing Artist? Judith Lucy could be the Dicko, Tony Martin the Mark Holden and Magda the Marcia earth mamma. I'd watch that. Maybe.

6 Comments:

At 10/6/05 11:50 am, Blogger j(aded) said...

Search for an Australian Sketch Comedy Performing Artist? Loves it! Bring it on.

 
At 10/6/05 4:49 pm, Anonymous Bazza ( not a bird a Crow) said...

We still have the biggest joke of all; John Winston Howard.

 
At 11/6/05 1:24 pm, Anonymous stephen said...

I don't think we realise how spoilt we have been with comedy TV in the 80s and 90s.
D Generation, Fast Forward, Skit House etc.....all churned out week after week after week.
Compare this with British Comedy shows (little britain, league of gentlemen etc.....)usually 6 very tightly defined episodes leaving you dying for more......but we've had week after week.
Did I see the other day that Glass House maintains that it does 42 episodes a year?
Any way I watched the first of the recent Channel 7 stuff and missed the second for all but about 30 secs....desperately wanting it to be good ....but it wasn't.
Existential Question:was it better than the Big Brother pie eating competition last night?
Unfortunately probably not!

I guess what I'm saying is that we churned them out with some success because there was a lot of momentum.
The trouble with doing only two episodes is that you never get up a head of steam.

Hope the vsiti to Espagna is all you want it to be.

 
At 11/6/05 1:26 pm, Anonymous stephen said...

I don't think we realise how spoilt we have been with comedy TV in the 80s and 90s.
D Generation, Fast Forward, Skit House etc.....all churned out week after week after week.
Compare this with British Comedy shows (little britain, league of gentlemen etc.....)usually 6 very tightly defined episodes leaving you dying for more......but we've had week after week.
Did I see the other day that Glass House maintains that it does 42 episodes a year?
Any way I watched the first of the recent Channel 7 stuff and missed the second for all but about 30 secs....desperately wanting it to be good ....but it wasn't.
Existential Question:was it better than the Big Brother pie eating competition last night?
Unfortunately probably not!

I guess what I'm saying is that we churned them out with some success because there was a lot of momentum.
The trouble with doing only two episodes is that you never get up a head of steam.

Hope the visit to Espagna is all you want it to be.

 
At 11/6/05 1:27 pm, Anonymous stephen said...

sorry I don't know why it published a draft as well as the corrected version.

 
At 23/6/05 1:22 am, Anonymous Rod Swift said...

Bring back Life Support on SBS!

 

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