And The Winner Is… Sid-e-knee

As people who run an awards ceremony of our own – well, the general public vote in the Australian Tumbleweed Awards, but you know what we mean – we have a tiny bit of compassion for the AWGIE awards. Clearly The Australian Writers Guild’s hearts are in the right place: considering how low on the pole writing is seen across pretty much all of film and television they’re to be applauded for supporting the people who – despite what everyone else in the industry might tell you – really are the ones who make it all happen.

Then they gave Wednesday Night Fever the award for “Comedy – Sketch or Light Entertainment”. The fuck?

Seriously, we’ve been scratching our heads about this for days. First we thought “oh, maybe it’s just for scripted sketches so a show like Mad as Hell somehow doesn’t qualify?” Nope, it says “Light Entertainment” right there on the lid. “Maybe there’s some rule whereby on-camera talent doesn’t count as a ‘writer’ for these awards?” Nope, Sammy J is listed as one of the writers and he was the show’s host. “Maybe all the other shows submitted were even worse?” Um…

COMEDY – SKETCH OR LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

*This Is Littleton: ‘Talent And A Head for Business’ – Amanda Brotchie with Dave O’Neil, Karl Chandler, Ronny Chieng, Melinda Cklamovska, Tegan Higginbotham, Tony Moclair, Matt Okine, Miles O’Neil, Morgana O’Reilly, Stevo Petkovic, Steen Raskopoulos, Vachel Spirason and Adele Vuko

*How Green Was My Cactus – Doug Edwards and Lindy Wilson with Shane Edwards (Radio)

*Wednesday Night Fever: Series 1 – Mat Blackwell, Rick Kalowski, Steve Lynch, Sammy J, Ian Simmons, Joel Slack-Smith and Stephen Walsh with Anne Edmonds, Heath Franklin and Richard Thorp

*Legally Brown – Joel Slack-Smith and Stephen Walsh with Nazeem Hussain, Morgan Jones and Richard Thorp

Yeah, even against that line-up Wednesday Night Fever should have been lucky to win a kick up the arse. Still, it could have been worse:

COMEDY – SITUATION OR NARRATIVE

*The Moodys: ‘Sean’s Day in Court’ – Patrick Brammall

*The Moodys: ‘Commitments’ – Phil Lloyd and Trent O’Donnell

*The Moodys: ‘Australia Day’ – Phil Lloyd and Trent O’Donnell

What the hell happened there? Actually, what the hell happened with the ABC’s comedy submissions across the board? The ABC is currently well-stocked with “situation or narrative” scripted comedy – why didn’t Upper Middle Bogan make a showing? Or Please Like Me? Or Chris Lilley’s stuff? Answers on a postcard, please.

Knowing literally nothing about how submissions to the AWGIE awards work – the guidelines only say you need to be a member to nominate – we’re going to make two wildly speculative guesses here. The first is that maybe the Australian Writers Guild is largely a Sydney thing, hence the lack of Melbourne-based entries… though you’d think The Chaser would have got a look in then.

The second is that maybe someone at the ABC decides which show they’re going to nominate, and that they only nominate one show in each category to prevent the embarrassing situation where one ABC show defeats another for an award the ABC has to nominate itself for. To us, that seems a little more likely – even in the drama categories it looks like the ABC has tried to avoid competing against itself where possible.

So if that’s the case – and we’re totally just speculating here, so please write in and tell us if we’re wrong – the question is this: who chose what shows to nominate? And did anyone at the ABC think that only nominating a sketch show produced and written by the man who is now the ABC’s head of scripted comedy might not have been a good look? That is, if the person who chose the ABC’s sketch comedy submission and the chief writer / producer of that sketch comedy aren’t the same person.

(hey, didn’t the creator of Wednesday Night Fever work with the Moodys writers on At Home With Julia? Why yes he did. Gosh, if we didn’t know better we’d think there was a theme to the ABC’s comedy nominations)

There’s presumably a lot of back-patting going on at the ABC at the moment; winning an award – at least, winning an award that doesn’t say “Australian Tumbleweeds”- is always a cause for celebration. Unless you’re someone who writes sketch comedy or light entertainment for the ABC: then you may very well have just seen your boss shut you out for an award so he can nominate his own show instead.

But wait – maybe Wednesday Night Fever earned the nomination? Maybe it rose to the top based on sheer unadulterated quality alone?

Yeah, the comedy categories are embarrassing enough for the AWGIE Awards as it is; let’s not start speculating that they actually thought Wednesday Night Fever was funny.

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4 Comments

  • Urinal Cake says:

    “And did anyone at the ABC think that only nominating a sketch show produced and written by the man who is now the ABC’s head of scripted comedy might not have been a good look?”

    I get the feeling these awards are very low profile so it’s more of a pat on the back than a step up on a pedestal. Probably everything is nominated for some award or another so feelings don’t get hurt. Though I think the ABC will push hard for Thomas since PLM is a ratings failure. Maybe Thomas will get a Rose D’Or.

  • Billy c says:

    It’s the awg awards. People send their own scripts in. It’s got nothing to do with the ABC or any network. It does have to have been produced though. Who knows who is or is not a member of the Awg or who could be bothered filling in a form to send it in. Like the Helpman awards it for people in a club to pat themselves on the back. My surprise was that Legally brown is primarily written by two white guys.

  • Lex says:

    Yeah, as Billy C has said, the networks have nothing to do with submissions. Individual writers have to submit their own shows for nominations, and you have to be a member of the Writers Guild to be eligible. Because the Guild is generally regarded to be a bit of a pointless joke, most tv writers don’t bother joining it: for instance, all of the significant names in Aust comedy – Working Dog, Chris Lilley, Shaun Micallef, The Chaser, John Clarke, Gina & Jane – are not members of the Guild, so their shows have never been eligible for submission.

    The win this year by Wednesday Night Fever is especially dodgy since the show’s creator Rick Kalowski has been on the board of the Writers Guild.

    As for the narrative award, presumably The Moodys was the only show that entered.

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