It started, as it always does, with a press release:
“I was absolutely devastated when Naz and Aamer decided to split. It was as if the fulcrum of Australian comedy had come asunder. They were just bloody funny.”
Helen Razer, comedy reviewer
“We did one last tour… and Aamer decided to add a joke he hadn’t done in any other shows…”
“Viral doesn’t even describe it, there was nary a corner of the internet not touched by this very hilarious moment.”
Helen Razer, comedy reviewer
Confused? So were we: who even calls Helen Razer a comedy reviewer these days? Surely we’re not the only people who remember this comment from ‘The Reviewer Reviewer’, a blog that covered Melbourne International Comedy Festival reviews a few years back:
“She [Helen Razer] also reviewed my [45 minute] show without seeing the first 10-15 mins. That’s a quarter of the show, maths fans. This approach doesn’t take into account what it does to a performer’s flow \ confidence when a distinctive-looking (and somewhat notorious) reviewer walks in late and sits right up the front-centre. I’d never assume that might be indicative of the normal show/script. I [naively] expected more from a lady I’d often admired \ enjoyed. Well, that’s solidarity for you. In response, I shall be buying one of her books, ripping out and discarding the first 150 pages, and reviewing what remains. Seems about right”
Wait, what? Oh, you’re confused as to what the press release was about. Sorry, our bad:
Australian Story: Divide and Conquer (Nazeem Hussain and Aamer Rahman)
Monday July 28, 8pm on ABC
We’re not exactly fans of Australian Story – there’s only so much cancer you can be expected to handle in half an hour – but hey, this episode’s got Tom Gleeson, what could possibly go wrong?
Well, for starters we couldn’t really tell if this was a repeat or not: it seemed to be either going over old ground or the 2011 episode on them didn’t really cover much of anything. And then suddenly BAM! Helen Razer is talking and we’re up to the present day. Guess it was mostly a repeat after all. A transcript of which you can read here.
As for the new news that justifies this update, it’s basically that “Fear of a Brown Planet” split up. Luckily Rahman’s final comedy bit went viral and gave him the confidence to keep going with comedy. In other news, Hussain’s TV career is really taking off, Rahman’s married now… and then Helen Razer said some more stuff and we really started to seriously wonder why she’s the one bringing us up to speed with these guys’ careers.
Sure, we know how these shows work: with barely half an hour to play with, you need talking heads to fill in the gaps. But didn’t the first 20-odd minutes do enough to establish their bona fides? This far into their careers, why did we need someone to tell us their break-up was a big deal, their going viral was a big deal, that Hussain is really a mainstream entertainer, and so on?
At least in the old material the talking heads made sense: their manager Bec Sutherland (who was once and may still be Tim Minchin’s manager), fellow comics, their family. And sure, in other episodes dealing with bigger issues you probably need outside experts for context. But here? We don’t need a comedy critic to tell us they’re funny on a television show about them: just stick on some clips and let us make up our own minds.
As with most things in life, the more we think about this the angrier we get: with only around 6 minutes of new material on the duo, why waste a single solitary second on someone telling us stuff we already know? They’re funny? Got it. Rahman’s clip went viral? Hussain already talked about it. Their break-up shocked the nation? Maybe find someone who isn’t a notorious self-promoter who spends most of her days butting into other people’s online conversations to inform them that they’re doing life wrong to bring us up to speed on that stuff.
In better news, Hussain’s SBS2 series Legally Brown is back next month. Razer doesn’t seem to be one of the guests.