Australian Tumbleweeds

Australia's most opinionated blog about comedy.

Vale Squinters

One of the many things that makes television reviewing such a disreputable profession is that television reviewers rarely have to stand by their judgements. Usually they review an upcoming show with some variation of the phrase “check it out, it’s worth a look” and then move on – some might say flee the scene – without ever having to face the consequences of their recommendations. Book and film reviewers at least cover the entire thing with their review, so if they decide to praise a turd they have no escape; television critics almost never bother returning to see if a show really was worth all that praise they ladled out.

Fortunately, Squinters was no good right from the start. And it was no good in a way that should have sent alarm bells ringing rather than having most Australian critics handing out the kind of fullsome praise that promises little and means even less. Previous car-based sitcoms at least focused on a handful of characters; with a cast in double figures and a run time barely double that, there was barely time for Squinters to set up sketch comedy jokes, let alone anything character-based. And then everyone was doing the exact same thing in every episode – driving to and from work – which meant all the sketches were the same.

It was a show seemingly designed to stymie any attempt to make it funny. Broader, sillier characters would have been funnier at first, then rapidly annoying over six episodes; more character development would only have been possible with less characters, and presumably the big names on the show – only they weren’t really names big enough to make this a must-see – were only doing it because it didn’t ask too much of them.

The list goes on. Driving to and from work is not funny; sitting next to someone in a car isn’t funny; traffic reports aren’t funny – and why were the traffic reports on Squinters played straight anyway? Who sat in the writers room and said “this show about people driving to and from work is only going to work if we make the experience of commuting as realistic as possible – only clearly none of us have ever commuted to work in our lives and the show isn’t about the actual real experience of commuting anyway so lets just bung in some traffic reports. Don’t make them funny though”?

When you watch a classic sitcom, one thing is clear: they’re trying to be funny pretty much all the time. Even the bits that don’t seem funny at first are setting up jokes for later on. With Squinters, a show so doggedly lacking in humour that referring to it in any way as a comedy is a breach of the trade descriptions act, the joke being set up was on everyone who watched it.

After all, they should be announcing a second series any day now.

Stand up and tell a story

Stand-up is the main route into comedy these days. Try naming a comedian who’s been well known in the past 10 years who didn’t start their career in stand-up. Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney? The Chaser team? Chris Lilley? Sammy J? Adam Zwar? Troy Kinne? It’s a short list*. And one that means that the dominant tenor of Australian comedy is that of stand-up, which sometimes makes for great comedy and sometimes doesn’t.

This year’s Tropfest runner-up was Rock Bottom, an animated short film by Nick Baker and Tristan Klein about two insects in a dive bar (played stand-ups Cassie Workman and Luke Heggie).

And while in many ways Rock Bottom is a well-made short film, its basic problem is that it’s a series of 30-seconds-or-so-long bits of barely-connected stand-up from Cassie, then Luke, then Cassie again, then Luke again, etc. rather than some funny, natural dialogue between two characters. We’re not saying some of it isn’t funny – it is – more that it doesn’t work as a film.

If you’re watching a film you expect a story, dialogue, character interaction, not seven minutes of the sort of thing that would appear between scenes on Seinfeld and last for 10 seconds. In Rock Bottom, Cassie and Luke aren’t speaking to each other, they’re just speaking into the air. Which would be fine if one of them was on stage speaking to an audience, but just looks weird when they’re supposed to be two characters interacting.

Conclusion: What works on stage doesn’t necessarily work on screen, even if you illustrate it with some good animation.

A far better and funnier attempt to bring stand-up-style comedy to a different medium can be found in Sarah Kendall’s Australian Trilogy, three 30-minute stories which have recently aired on BBC Radio 4 in the UK.

Based on Kendall’s past live shows (performed at MICF and Edinburgh), these are based on Kendall’s real childhood experiences growing up in Newcastle. This is the world of school bullies, cool kids, social pressure, weird teachers, and being too young to entirely understand what’s happening around you. These stories are funny, gripping and beautifully crafted. Two of the three can still be heard on the BBC website and they’re well worth your effort and time.

* And one we’re not entirely sure is accurate.

Who Let the Dogs Out

If you’ve heard anything about That’s Not My Dog! – and why would you, it’s an Australian film – it’s probably that it features a bunch of professional joksters and no script. Australian film is made without a script: now there’s a news flash. Fortunately it features both a barbeque and a literal truck full of beer otherwise we’d be confusing it with Godard’s latest effort.

To be fair, who needs a script, or even a story, when you have a concept this bloody good: Shane Jacobson and his dad (played by his real-life dad, who is actually pretty decent) invite a whole bunch of local comedians out to their homestead for a barbie, complete with the aforementioned literal truckload of beer. There is one catch: they all have to bring along their best jokes, which they then proceed to tell for the next 80 minutes or so.

It’s important to stress that none of this is actual stand-up comedy as we currently know it; everyone stands around and tells the kind of generic jokes you find in joke books piling up in op shops across the land. The film stresses the fact that these comedians are bringing the best jokes they know to this gathering, but going by the quality of the gags Jacobson might as well have told them to bring along an ouija board so they could summon up the ghost of Maurie Fields.

Back in the days when these kind of jokes were considered actual entertainment, even the most basic of joke-telling stand-up acts usually ended up giving away something of themselves through the jokes they chose to tell. Rodney Dangerfield’s act was pretty much a well-honed barrage of “I can’t get no respect” set-ups and punchlines, but a large part of why they worked was because through all that we got a sense of Dangerfield’s comedy persona as a put-upon loser. This is one step down from that. And that one step is off a cliff.

All we get here – aside from a few snipped of pub band-level live music and a whole lot of astoundingly blatant product placement – are basic jokes that anyone could tell, told by a range of comedy types – Jimoen, Steve Vizard, Paul Hogan and Tim Ferguson are some of the bigger names – who have no real personal link or connection to the jokes they’re telling. They’re decent enough jokes, so some are funny and some are not, but none of them are worth paying movie ticket prices to hear. In theory it might be worth it to see Hogan and Vizard and everyone else on the big screen, but… it’s not.

Which the producers seem to have figured out: this is screening around Australia for three days only – less than a day and a half to go at this stage – as a kind of “special event”. And maybe it’ll work; it definitely feels like the kind of film you’d want to see with a bunch of mates wandering in and out of the cinema at will (it’s not like you’re going to miss a plot twist) as part of a big night out, not sitting practically alone in a daytime cinema because you love Australian comedy just that much.

Not enough to see The BBQ though. Fuck that.

It’s a Numbers Game

Press release time!

Screen Australia has announced a slate of production funding investments including directorial debuts from acclaimed actors Rachel Griffiths and Guy Pearce, as well as new TV series for SBS, Foxtel, Channel Seven and one for Network Ten led by The Project co-host Peter Helliar. In total $7.4 million in funding has been allocated through the feature film, television and online production programs.

[blah blah blah]

Princess Pictures’ and Pablo Pictures’ eight-part comedy drama How To Stay Married for Network Ten, starring Logie award-winning actress Lisa McCune and comedian Peter Helliar, who has also co-written the script. It tells the story of Greg (Helliar) and Em (McCune) whose 13-year marriage is put to the test by a new job, an unexpected house guest, a redundancy and an experimental sex move. Produced by Jess Leslie, executive produced by Andrea Denholm and Emma Fitzsimons, and directed by Natalie Bailey from a script by Helliar and Nick Musgrove. This series has also been financed by Film Victoria.

[blah-de blah blah]

Screentime’s comedy Orange is the New Brown for Channel Seven – a six-part series that will reflect contemporary Australian life using one-off sketches, original and recurring characters and TV parodies. Produced by Jack Kain, executive produced by Johnny Lowry, directed by Hayden Guppy and written by Nazeem Hussain, Joel Slack-Smith, Sophie Braham, Richard Thorp, Penny Greenhalgh and Heidi Regan. This series has also been financed by Create NSW and is currently in production.

So, uh, it’s not all bad news? Actually, it’s all good news, as the Peter Helliar show isn’t exactly news and we fully support the idea of sketch comedy on the commercial networks. It’ll probably be… well, you’ve seen recent Australian sketch comedy, you know where the bar’s set. But it’s a numbers game: the more sketch comedy we make, the more likely it becomes that we’ll make something good.

If only we could say the same about Peter Helliar projects.

Hacking Through the Jungle

You have to feel sorry for the ABC. On the one hand, they obviously want to put to air the best possible Australian comedy. Obviously.

On the other hand, the best possible Australian comedy is heading overseas as quickly as possible because that’s where all the money, opportunities and fame are. Sure, there are still plenty of talented local comedians but who wants to risk putting untested talent to air? For that matter, who wants to risk putting tested talent to air? They might have the wrong ideas about what’s funny.

So you have to feel sorry for the ABC: they need a steady, reliable source of comedy they can largely leave to their own devices – if you work too closely with new talent it might look bad for you when their show tanks – but can deliver time and time again. And also aren’t The Chaser because they seem to have gone off the whole “comedy” thing.

Fortunately for the ABC, they have Jungle (formerly Jungleboys), the advertising production company that’s currently dominating the Australian sitcom scene in a fashion not seen since… well, ever. They first burst on the scene with a variety of low profile shows – Review With Myles Barlow being the stand out, but there was also the Sam Simmons projects Problems and The Urban Monkey – before pulling in steady work with the utterly forgettable The Moodys. Don’t think we forgot The Elegant Gentleman’s Guide to Knife-Fighting either: it’s a high mountain to climb to create the worst sketch comedy in Australian television history, but they gave it a darn good try.

(fun fact: reports from the set of Elegant Gentleman claim that the cast were re-writing – or even just writing – the sketches on the day of filming.)

Interestingly, even when Jungle isn’t busy creating primo Australian comedy, core Jungle members Trent O’Donnell (writer / director) and Phil Lloyd (actor / writer) are out there working solo putting their stamp on things. O’Donnell’s directed many of the last decade’s memorable moments, including the first seasons of Laid, Woodley, The Letdown, and even parts of The Chaser’s The Hamster Wheel because we’re all in this comedy business together, right? And Lloyd’s been one of the more noticeable faces in recent Australian comedy, as seen in It’s a Date, Laid, True Story with Hamish & Andy, Woodley, and At Home With Julia.

But it’s been in the last few years that Jungle has really taken off in Australian comedy. No Activity, Here Come the Habibs, Squinters and the upcoming Sando: that’s what, half of all the Australian sitcoms made over the last two years? Which is a kind of market domination we haven’t really seen before: there have been plenty of shows that have grabbed all the attention thanks to their quality, but this is the first time a group has dominated Australian television comedy through sheer quantity.

It’s even more impressive when you consider that they haven’t exactly been producing any real comedy highlights over these last few years. They make the kind of comedy that fills the gaps between the shows you actually want to watch, sitcoms that have people wondering “why can’t we make great sitcoms any more”. They’re not exactly bad shows, but you’d be a bit surprised if anyone told you that No Activity was their favourite sitcom.

Jungle’s success is a big reminder that for a lot of people involved in television production the quality of the end product is not quite as important as reviewers and commentators – like us – would like to think. Put another way, when it comes to getting work, being able to make a half hour program on time and on budget (especially if the budget is tight) is more vital than being able to make a hilarious program. And with the kind of pressure these executives are under, who can blame them for taking the safe route?

Apart from us, obviously.

Good Afternoon Adelaide

You expect good things from the writers of Mad As Hell. Mad As… has been the funniest show on TV for ages and much of that’s down to the writing. So it was with interest that we’ve been watching Good Afternoon Adelaide, a homage to and parody of local television from the 80s and 90s, made by and starring David M. Green, a writer for Mad As Hell (and the host of 31 Questions).

Made last year and released on Facebook and YouTube, Good Afternoon Adelaide is also currently airing on C44 Adelaide and C31 Melbourne. We haven’t caught the community TV screenings, but what you get on YouTube are clips from fictional show Good Afternoon Adelaide, hosted by uptight journalist Jeremy Dome and smooth-with-the-ladies businessman Norman Vine, the backstory being that the clips were recorded off-air onto VHS by a keen viewer and are the best of what remains of the show (the master tapes of which were wiped).

Good Afternoon Adelaide

As for the show itself, it’s everything you’d expect of local TV – cheap set, poor production, technical problems, bizarre local references, terrible hosting, guests which can most politely be described as “best available” – this should be a comedy goldmine. Problem is like the actual shows its parodying (SAS-7’s “legendary” A Touch of Elegance and its Anne Wills-hosted successor AM Adelaide) Good Afternoon Adelaide is a bit slow and dull.

On the real shows, things were slow and dull because the presenters had lots of time to fill and not much to fill it with, but here the problem seems to be that the comedy is improvised and not improvised very well. Occasionally, Jeremy and Norman will say or do something funny, but it takes an awfully long time to get there.

Good improvised shows, like The Trip, work because there’s been a bit of planning involved, the cast has a rapport and knows how to play off each other. That and the less-successful improv gets edited out. In the case of Good Afternoon Adelaide, there doesn’t seem to have been much editing at all. Apart from to make the picture quality look old and faded like it really did come from ageing VHS tapes.

Overall, we like the concept and appreciate the intent and attention to detail, but this should be a lot funnier. It’s also incredibly strange to see a comedy show made now that doesn’t feature any women at all.* What was going on there?

* It would also have been weird to watch a comedy show in the late 80’s/early 90’s that didn’t feature any women, an era in which we saw a female comedy boom with comedians such as Wendy Harmer, Jane Kennedy, Judith Lucy, Jean Kittson, Maryanne Fahey, Jane Turner, Marg Downey, Gina Reilly and Magda Szubanski regularly on our screens.

Squinters are Grinners

Well, Sam Simmons finally got to do a long riff about an animal, so clearly Squinters has run out of material with an episode and a half to go. Then again, this is a show that serves up pearlers like “Aah fuck, ya roses have punctured one of me sex dolls”, so Simmons delivering one of his trademark word salads about how his dog is like a pirate is a high water mark.

Five episodes in and this show couldn’t be more constrained if it was broadcast live from a coffin. We’re not just talking about the way close to nothing happened for the first four episodes then suddenly everyone had big important developments, because that’s just regular lazy sitcom writing. Guys, if we’ve watched five episodes, we don’t need shitty cliffhangers to get us back one final time.

Squinters might have “developed” from shows like No Activity and Car Share, but those were shows based on characters we’d spend the entire episode with. Turning the idea of car chat comedy into an ensemble show creates a very weird format if you think about it, which clearly producers Jungle didn’t: it’s a sketch show where all the sketches are basically the same, a character based comedy where the characters are barely two dimensional, a story-driven comedy where each story barely gets five minutes an episode and half of that has to be recap. Also: not all that funny.

Here’s a bet for you: we reckon if you showed up on the doorstep of the ABC Comedy Department with a script that featured extended discussions of dog’s balls, car air-conditioning, sex robots as “dildo’s with faces” and someone leaving a string of increasingly awkward answering machine messages in a joke that was only ever funny in the twenty year-old movie Swingers, you would not be given the green light to make a six episode half-hour sitcom. And yet, Squinters. Why?

The obvious answer – to the slightly more cynically minded at least – is that the short segment format allowed the producers to bring in some big crowd-pleasing names that otherwise wouldn’t commit to a more traditional (read: lengthy) sitcom filming schedule. Fair enough: who are these big names again? Sam Simmons and Tim Minchin aren’t exactly Hamish & Andy, let alone Hughsie & Kate or Kyle & Jackie O. If you’re going with a laugh-free format because it’s going to bring in the big names, you actually need to bring in the big names – not deliver a couple of comedy performers whose mainstream Australian appeal peaked five years ago.

What’s frustrating about Squinters isn’t that it’s not all that funny: that’s most Australian comedy and yes, we have seen the advertisements for Sando. It’s the feeling that whatever the producers were aiming for, “funny” wasn’t it. They went with an almost intentionally unfunny format so they could bring in the big names, then failed to bring in the big names. Why again was half of this filmed in LA? Oh that’s right: big names. Who were they again?

Obviously both Sam Simmons and Tim Minchin – plus Jackie Weaver in a brief cameo – are comedy performers people have heard of. But they’re not big enough names to carry a show when they’re only in the show for a combined total of seven or eight minutes an episode. It’s great that they’re on our screens, but when the format was designed almost entirely around them, we’re not exactly getting value for money here. And while everyone else here is good, they’d be better in a show that wasn’t this show, because this show was made so a couple of big names could film all their scenes in a day or two.

Presumably Squinters 2: Still Squinting will star Adam Hills and Jim Jefferies for 30 seconds each week. Good news: they’ll still be front and center on all the promo material.

Negative Stereotypes

Well, this sounds hilarious:

A Netflix comedy series written by Chris Lilley will be filmed on the Gold Coast, in what the state government says is a $6 million win for the local economy.

Ten episodes will be filmed between March and June this year.

Unfortunately no-one seems to know what the show is going to be about, so it’s safe to assume it’s just going to be Lilley riffing to camera about whatever mildly “shocking” subjects come to mind… like every other show he’s ever made. Don’t expect to see it any time soon either: the last time he aimed for ten episodes it took over a year of editing before it saw the light of day.

It’s slightly – but only slightly – refreshing to see that pretty much every report on this went straight to “man, Chris Lilley is racist af”. Hell, in at least one case they just straight-up led with that:

Comedian Chris Lilley is returning to the spotlight for the first time since he was widely criticised for posting a controversial video to his Instagram in 2017.

Lilley was widely criticized for the clip and faced fury from a number of notable names, including Indigenous duo AB Original last year after he shared a blackface music video for Squashed N***a, only hours after protests in Melbourne over the death of 14-year-old Indigenous boy Elijah Doughty.

“It took five years to get that credence to tell everyone that what he did was racist and fucking whack,” Briggs told The Music at the time.“It shows his disconnection from black culture, black politics and black people in general.”

Which suggests that unless Lilley has somehow totally reinvented his act – you know, the exact same act he’s been doing since the very start of his career – he’s pretty much fucked. Because while society may not have been completely stood on its head over the last few years, attitudes towards an upper middle-class white guy making fun of women and other races really kinda has.

He might be able to cobble together an audience from nostalgic fans and people who find trolling funny, but the days when Lilley could have it both ways – being seen as shining a light on social problems faced by underprivileged sectors of the community by some, getting laughs from wearing a dress and bunging on an accent by others – are well and truly over. Worse (for him), comedy has changed, and the idea of creating “comedy” by making audiences feel awkward by saying offensive shit is over now that we can get that for free from the internet.

So if dressing up as a woman for laughs is out, and dressing up in blackface for laughs is out, and dressing up as a teenager to hang out with other teens is out, and mocking minorities and the disabled under cover of “being confronting” is out, what’s left for Lilley to fill ten episodes with? And does anyone care enough to want to find out?

Wine time

Here’s what you feel like on a Monday morning: wine – and lots of it. Failing that, there’s the web series Wine, a bottle shared is a problem halved, created by and starring Jess Harris (Twentysomething) and Emily Taheny (Mad As Hell), in which two friends, Harry and Bridget, meet regularly in inner Melbourne bars to talk through their problems over several bottles of white. There are only four episodes and they were released on Facebook earlier this year, so it’s an easy watch.

Wine, a bottle shared is a problem halved

Just don’t expect Sex and the City or Absolutely Fabulous, this is much more lo-fi and a slow burn. Probably too slow a burn, for if there’s one big problem with this series it’s that you have to wait until the final episode for anything really funny or interesting to happen.

The first three episodes are basically the same – the two women complaining about weird and wonderful aspects of their personal lives whilst steadily getting drunker in a hip bar. There’s some funny dialogue in there, and its well-played and well-paced, but it’s not super hilarious. Also, and unlike other shows working in this area (let’s use Sex and the City and Absolutely Fabulous as examples again) neither Harry or Bridget seem to have a character beyond “woman getting drunk”, which makes it a bit one-note – and means there’s little potential for anything interesting to develop.

Except that it does, in episode four, thanks to a cameo from Ryan Shelton, who plays a sommelier and improves things hugely. Unlike the waiters from previous episodes, who didn’t have much to do other than bring the bottle over or take the women’s money, Shelton’s character actually has a character. And funny lines, which he plays brilliantly.

And to say something (that should be) really obvious, it’s because there’s suddenly a different character in the show that the show’s suddenly a lot funnier. Instead of “two increasingly drunk women who are basically the same, talking about much the same thing” it’s “over-zealous wine waiter” vs. “two increasingly drunk women who just want to be left alone”. I.e. there’s now some conflict, and, therefore, lots of potential for comedy.

The end of episode four is a good one and makes you want to see more of this show, assuming it carries on the same vein. There’s also a lesson here: if you have a comedy with two characters talking to each other, either the two characters need to be sufficiently different and/or interesting to make things funny, or you need to introduce a third character who can be funny. In fact, ideally, you have both.

Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush

So this happened:

TV STAR Tim Ferguson carried out a vile and obscene campaign of bullying when at the height of his fame.

Ferguson, along with Richard Fidler and Paul McDermott, were the original members of comedy group the Doug Anthony Allstars (DAAS) at the time the offensive letters were sent.

The letters were signed off by Ferguson with “love and breast cancer” and “love and leukemia”, and “cunnilingus” from “DAAS CORP”, the comedy group’s nickname.

The letters included obscene drawings of naked women and a man lying between a naked woman’s legs with a large erect penis.

The letters, written to me when I was working as a reporter at the The Sun-Herald newspaper, were sent from the office of the Allstars’ Melbourne agent and from ABC-TV.

And over at Tumbleweeds Tower, we had a bit of a chat about it.

A: Today, in “offensive comedian is offensive” news…

B: Oh dear. What an awful and ridiculous thing to have done. I’m not defending him, but this is an example of when comedians are so in the zone of their comedy – which in the case of DAAS at the time was pretty offensive, sexual, comedy – and they get on a roll and do something like this, which they think is funny and/or justified, and everyone else in the world looks at it and thinks “What the fuck are you doing?”.

A: It seems very much part and parcel of their approach, but it also seems pretty clearly meant to intimidate her.

B: Yeah, that’s very much what he does. Fair enough to be an artist who hates critics (I guess) but don’t express it like this. I can only assume he thought he was being so hilarious that she’d take it as a joke.

A: If there’s a joke here it’s of the “ha ha, why are you taking my threatening insults seriously, I’m only having a laugh!” variety. I can’t really see where the joke is in all this, aside from “how do you like it?” Which doesn’t even work as a joke because a critic writing in a newspaper isn’t exactly the same as a public performer and therefore a bad review isn’t quite the same as sending creepy sex threats. Plus DAAS came from a busking background, so (I’m guessing) they’d be even more than usually sunk in that “critics are like hecklers and you’ve got to beat a heckler down” mindset which looks so bad anywhere outside of a performance space.

B: That’s the other problem, it’s not funny. In fact every time I’ve rewatched DAAS recently – I even went to their live reunion – I walked away thinking “These guys aren’t very funny”. I agree with Candace!

A: For me the appeal of DAAS was largely the catchy songs – the banter in between was often nothing special. As DAAS Kapital revealed fairly aggressively, their grasp of comedy beyond “prepare to be shocked” was pretty flimsy. Meanwhile, the big worry for most local comedians in the age of #MeToo is that historically most Australian comedians have been really quick to have a crack at journalists and reviewers – but most of the time the comedians have been men and the journos have been women. I dimly remember very early on Martin / Molloy rang up a journalist to have a go at her because she said Martin / Molloy was a crap name for a radio show – wacky fun then, serious faces all around now.

B: Yeah, there’s definitely a gendered aspect to it. I think women were expected to cop it “like men”. Now women are saying “actually this is a shit way to behave” – and finally being listened to – and it’s all changed. Extending #MeToo to this kind of thing (i.e. beyond rape and sexual assault) is basically women saying “this is a male way of doing things and we don’t like it and don’t have to cop it anymore”. This is about standards of behaviour and professionalism, as well as how genders interact. A person with a regular job would be fired for contacting someone at another organisation and saying stuff like that. In showbiz, at that time, it was fine.

A: A fair bit of it in comedy, especially the stand up side of things, seems to be a real combative hostility towards reviewers. I think it to some extent comes from relying on reviews to make or break their shows (at least early on) – I saw something recently where a (female) comedian was having a go at a (female) reviewer who’d been clueless and insulting in her review, but the justification for attacking the reviewer was basically that you become a fair target “once you publicly air [prejudicial opinions] in a position where you influence female artists financial outcomes”. So pretty much “don’t mess with our money!” And with some stand-ups not always being pleasant people those concerns have come out in a lot of unacceptable ways over the years – even if Helen Razer thinks it’s all part of the game.

B: Yeah, there’s a huge contradiction between stand-ups doing edgy gear about, say, anal sex and the #MeToo stuff. Then again, they are completely different things.

A: I was thinking more of the time Lawrence Mooney insulted that female (real estate) journo who gave him a bad (and clueless) review while his mates said “that’s the Moonman for you!”

B: Yeah. It would be nice if men didn’t enable other men to be shit. (And it’s nice that in their apology Paul McDermott and Richard Fidler said that if they’d known what Tim Ferguson was doing they’d have told him to stop.)

A: That whole thing from a few years back where comedians were attacking the clueless reviewers the Herald Sun was sending out to cover Melbourne International Comedy Festival shows I suspect might play very differently now – most of the reviewers who copped the flack were clearly younger women being thrown in at the deep end by their (male) bosses.

B: That’s always been a thing during festivals. The Advertiser‘s been doing it for as long as I can remember. A comedian should be able to express their dislike of a review without bringing the reviewer’s gender into it, though. Just say “They got it wrong about my act, I’m pissed off” rather than call them a slut or whatever. Not hard.

A: Unless you’re a male Australian comedian over 35.