So part of Team Tumbleweeds crawled out from behind their stockpile of old Ned and You Can’t Stop the Murders DVDs and went outside to see some live comedy. Well, by “live” we mean the preview at Melbourne’s ACMI of two (the first two?) episodes of the highly anticipated new show from Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney, AKA the Kates behind The Katering Show, Get Krack!n.
It’s not really fair to review a show so far out from airing – we were told it’ll be out soon, but we’re figuring maybe September or October? – so we’ll keep our judgement largely to ourselves for now. And also because watching a television comedy on a big screen in a cinema is kind of weird, especially a show like this one – but more on that in a moment.
The scenario is basically The Katering Show 2.0, right down to a handful of references early on to The Katering Show (yes, continuity nerds, they are playing the same characters, only we were told there’d be no cooking segments after the one in the first episode so all those classic cheese jokes are done): The Kates have moved up in the world and are now hosting a morning show (that supposedly airs at 3am here so it can be a mid-morning show in the US) in their own unique fashion. Is this a chat show parody where everything goes wrong? Yes. Yes it is.
The first episode put in some extra effort to establish the scenario, making it slightly closer to your standard bungled chat show comedy, while the second had a bit more of the usual angsty dynamic between the Kates and so felt a touch more Katering Show. But the big difference here is that, as each episode runs close to half an hour, they’ve brought in guests for various segments. There’s cameos too – Briggs and Sam Simmons make brief but memorable appearances – which also opens out the show a bit.
There was a strong positive reaction from the crowd on the night, which is as you’d expect: the show’s good. How good was a little hard for us to judge though. For one thing, it’s a show with a lot of jokes waiting for the audience to stumble across – details in the set design, the ticker across the bottom of the screen, etc – so there’s funny stuff going on that didn’t get the big laughs it deserved.
It’s also a show set on a cheesy generic talk show set which on the big screen looked, well… cheesy and generic. Fortunately, pretty much everyone is going to watch it on a TV screen or computer monitor, where we’re guessing it’ll look spot-on. Then again, some comedy pixelation was probably even more effective on the big screen – it definitely got huge laughs (including from us).
And also – and this really could be just us – a lot of the Kates’ appeal comedy-wise is that they’re very good at doing small comedy: expressions of boredom and frustration, low stakes fumbling that reveals the yawning abyss beneath modern life and so on. It’s comedy that works best one-on-one up close: watching it in a big crowd didn’t do some of the harsher lines any favours.
There was also a Q&A afterwards in which the two exhausted-seeming (we were sitting up the back so we couldn’t really tell but it sounded like they’d been working like crazy over the last few months) Kates’ talked a fair bit about stuff like how they felt they couldn’t tell any stories that weren’t theirs to tell so they brought in contributing writers for that kind of thing and how unless a character really needed to be a man they cast a woman and they had some trouble getting used to doing a three camera sitcom because their previous experiences with those kind of shows (titles mentioned: The Big Bite, Hamish & Andy, Live From Planet Earth, Let Loose Live) had left them just a little gunshy.
Also, if you’re a dude and you want to compliment them on their show, maybe compliment them on their show, not say “wow, you’re really funny” because after a while that starts to sound pretty dickish