With almost all Australian radio comedy consisting of two or three people having a natter, it’s perhaps not surprising that most Australian comedy podcasts follow a similar format. The (refreshing) point of difference with some of the better podcasts, however, is that the level of conversation often raises its sights above the odd-spot stories in that morning’s paper. Two podcasts which feature worthwhile comedic nattering – and an exploration of the craft of comedy – are The Little Dum Dum Club and Can You Take This Photo Please?, both of which have been going for around 18 months. If you don’t listen to them already we recommend you start.
The Little Dum Dumb Club is hosted by stand-ups Karl Chandler and Tommy Dassalo. Amongst the escalating in-jokes about Sunshine Johnson (a local character from Chandler’s hometown of Maryborough) and the fact that Dassalo’s real surname is not Dassalo, have been some good insights in to the Australian industry. Kate McLennan spilled all about Live From Planet Earth, Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope talked about their move into not-for-profit online video, and Weird Al Yankovic was interviewed for far too short a time. Other guests on the show have included Mick Molloy, Shaun Micallef, Charlie Pickering, and a number of prominent figures from the live scene.
Can You Take This Photo Please? with Justin Hamilton and Bron Robinson is similar to Dum Dum, but often gets more serious and in-depth. Comedians you may have dismissed as “that guy from that show” (i.e. Lehmo) turn out to have some interesting insights into their craft, while veterans of the industry like Tony Martin, Tim Ferguson and Greg Fleet require two podcasts each to go through their professional histories.
The latest episode of Can You Take This Photo Please?, in which Hamilton explains why his new Comedy Festival show The Goodbye Guy may be his last for a while, sees him get very reflective on his career and the local industry in general. If you’ve been listening to Can You Take This Photo Please? for a while, Hamilton’s decision to stop doing one hour shows for a bit doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Last year’s MICF reviewing fiasco, particularly as regards comments made about his show Circular, and a few other factors (which he outlines in the podcast), have prompted Hamilton to make the change. It’s a massive shame if you’re a fan of one of this country’s more experimental and interesting stand-ups, but at least the podcast will continue; a series of video podcasts filmed at MICF are apparently coming soon.
What is perhaps worth questioning about The Little Dum Dum Club and Can You Take This Photo Please? though, is that these podcasts are made by working comedians who can’t necessarily be relied upon to take a neutral or critical stance on the comedy industry. While you do get the sense in those shows that you’re eves-dropping on the sorts of conversations stand-ups have with each other after gigs, the reluctance of those involved to openly question bad work from their fellow comedians is problematic. If people aren’t willing to be honest and critical in one of the few regular outlets for serious discussion of comedy, then where will they? Sometimes you wait years for the likes of Jon Faine, who regularly has comedians on ABC Melbourne’s The Conversation Hour, to host a worthwhile discussion about comedy (more often you get this sort of thing), and we can’t think of another show apart from The Little Dum Dum Club and Can You Take This Photo Please? which does it better. [Okay, Tony Martin’s A Quiet Word With was pretty good too, but that didn’t feature many local comedians, and Tony Martin’s hardly a neutral party.]
But that aside, the long-form, often rambling, comedian-on-comedian chats you get in The Little Dum Dum Club and Can You Take This Photo Please? are still interesting. Very interesting. No one’s got anything to plug (mostly), they’re interesting conversations, and in the end, that’s perfectly fine.