Australian Tumbleweeds

Australia's most opinionated blog about comedy.

Leaving a Mark

Twenty-four hours ago, Australian comedy was rocked to its very core:

Mark Humphries

24 June at 20:49

Tomorrow is my last day at The Feed SBS VICELAND. I have been extraordinarily privileged to work on the show and I am grateful to all of you who have supported the work Evan and I have done. The time feels right for us to move on.

Okay, maybe it was slightly more than 24 hours, we’ve been too distraught to check the clock.

Humphries first came to our attention as part of the team on The Roast, a show we were completely unimpressed by during its four year attempt to make The Chaser look brilliant. Actually, there was one time it was hilarious: when they cracked the shits after being axed in 2014:

We’d also like to wish young, promising comedians like Shaun Micallef and The Chaser the best of luck as we pass the torch down to them.

Classic stuff.

Anyway, after The Roast crashed Humphries soon turned up doing short segments on SBS’s The Feed, which we largely ignored for a range of reasons, none of which were that we weren’t exactly sure which one of the guys from The Roast he actually was. But in the last six months or so he’s either hired a new agent or started getting good at his job, as various profile pieces started turning up letting us know that once again a fresh-faced white guy from a well-off background in inner-city Sydney is Australia’s top satirist.

“Most people reading this are going to go ‘Who?’” Humphries insists. “Most of Australia doesn’t know who I am.”

That is likely to change soon. Humphries’s recent work as Barabbas Loins, a character who happens to enjoy an eerily similar life trajectory to Barnaby Joyce, has risen to particular prominence, sealing Humphries’s status as one of the best satirists in Australia.

Well, John Clarke’s still dead so sure, why not this guy?

Anyway, his most recent media profile – all of the ones we could find seemed to be from News Corp papers so he must be doing something right – contained this bombshell:

Humphries is also more politically neutral than his comedy would suggest. “I think I am perceived as a progressive because of the network I’m on. And because, absolutely, more often than not we do target the conservative side. But I really would stress that the conservative side is in government, and so they are a bigger target naturally,” he explains.

“People might disagree with this but my feeling is that presently there are more characters on that side who lend themselves to caricature and ridicule than there are on the left. That is open to interpretation. I would actually love to do more stuff lampooning the left, but I think Labor and the Greens either don’t have as many characters or are a little more careful with how they present themselves. I should also state that my grandfather represented the Liberal Party in State Parliament, by the way.”

Oh sorry, that wasn’t a surprise at all. We meant this:

As for what the future might hold, Humphries reveals to Stellar that his SBS contract — and that of writing partner Williams — will finish at the end of this month.

“I would love to do more things with SBS in some capacity because it is — I know it’s a cliché — but it’s a great place to work, and the people are wonderful. I feel privileged to work there. Having said that, I love sitcoms and I would like to just go away and think of something that I could bring to the table. Maybe there is no appetite for that, but I feel that it’s time to at least explore that avenue.”

With that, he takes a deep breath. “It just feels time to see what’s out there.”

Usually with this kind of story we’d be wondering “did he jump or was he pushed” right about now. But let’s be honest: as a privately educated son of an ABC staffer currently getting glowing write-ups in News Corp papers, Humphries is probably the only working comedian in this country who can afford to quit a steady gig in the hopes of getting something better.

That’s not to say this won’t be the last we ever hear of him – whatever the quality of his work, short political comedy sketches aren’t exactly a thriving business in this country (is anyone still watching those Thursday evening Sammy J sketches on the ABC?) – but he’s probably gone about as far as he was ever going to go at SBS. And moving aside to give new guys a go is the way comedy is meant to work on the bottom rungs.

Of course, sitcom production in this country is dependent entirely on whether you can a): get overseas funding or b): work for Jungle so, uh, good luck there. Maybe a Barabbas Loins movie?


Well, that was quick. And fairly unsurprising:

TEN has formally confirmed its Pointless game show to be co-hosted by Dr Andrew Rochford & Mark Humphries.

A “reverse Family Feud,” the game show sees three teams of two contestants each searching for the most obscure answers to a variety of topics, and score as few points as possible.

No idea who’ll actually be hosting yet – you’d assume Mark, but we’d have assumed the ABC would have been making a local version of Pointless so clearly we’re not the best ones to ask.

And while it’s good that someone has finally decided to just straight-up remake the low-stakes game show that Australian televison’s been ripping off for years, the existence of shows like Hard Quiz and Think Tank might mean Australians could have already had enough of quiz shows based largely on charm and chat. No big cash prizes? No second series.

Anyone know what Evan Williams is doing next?

Tonightly 2.0 and the elephant in the room

Tonightly, the ABC Comedy nightly satire show that’s divided opinion on this blog and in the world of the mainstream media, is back. It was always going to be interesting to see how it would change in this new series, with the arrival of new executive producer Dan Ilic who promised (jokily) “to make it the highest rating nightly-satirical-comedy-show on Australian TV”, and the recent call for new talent, but then came one hell of a curveball: the recent allegations against host Tom Ballard.

Tom Ballard of Tonightly

Ballard has strongly denied the allegations, and the ABC has stood by him. But if the allegations are ever proved they would somewhat contradict the woke comedy both the show and Ballard are famous for, and Ballard would have to go. So, how does a satire show deal with something like this? Answer: very subtly.

The first two episodes of the new series included segments on the horrific rape and murder of young Melbourne comedian Eurydice Dixon. Sexual assault is something Tonightly has done stories on before, so this wasn’t a surprise, and because some of those who work on the show knew Dixon, feelings on the show were understandably high. Ballard himself made his feelings on sexual assault clear, without mentioning the allegations against himself – and there’s no reason to think he was anything other than utterly genuine.

This is part of the show’s coverage of the story. It set the right tone and had a few laughs in it – textbook Tonightly.

Other than that, the only possible reference to the allegations was a line in a segment about ABC privatisation in which Ballard said:

Yesterday, Michelle Guthrie, who is the managing director of the ABC…who I happen to think is a wonderful and great person who I love very much. [KNOWING LAUGHS FROM AUDIENCE] She’s very good and lets people keep their jobs. [MORE LAUGHS]

Wow. And then it was back to the comedy, which included a parody of an old-school politically incorrect comedian of the Kevin Bloody Wilson school, called Squidsy Mulligan, and segments on the World Cup, the return of Clive Palmer, and the policies of the government and Labor on refugees.

To go back to our original question about how the show might evolve, the answer is… not much. This is very much Tonightly as Tonightly has always been: a slightly shambolic mix of topical stand-up, self-deprecating gags, crappy props, and sketches which need a little more work. The only new-seeming feature was some newspaper cartoon-style animations by Glen Le Lievre in between segments. Oh, and the show now has a Facebook page. So if you were hoping for big changes at Tonightly you’ll be disappointed.

It seems that if there are changes to be made to Tonightly, they’re going to happen slowly. And as the show has already found a groove that enough people seem to like, why make big or sudden changes? “Steady as she goes” seems the watchword here, about both the allegations against Ballard and the show itself.

Your ABC: forming strategic partnerships to bring digital content to wider audiences.

Press release time!

The ABC and Screen Australia are excited to announce that production has commenced this week in Melbourne on Superwog, a new six-part comedy series for ABC COMEDY and YouTube.

Produced by Princess Pictures in association with the ABC, with principal production investment from Screen Australia, and financed with support from Film Victoria and YouTube, the project will forge new ground with episodes released on YouTube, ABC COMEDY and ABC iview – marking a first ever full series collaboration between the ABC and YouTube.

The dual broadcast plan will give Superwog’s huge loyal fanbase more of the show they love both online and on TV, while also exposing a true Aussie comedy success story to a whole new ABC audience. This partnership is yet another example of how the ABC is continually looking for innovative ways to engage with audiences as they shift towards on-demand content, including forming strategic partnerships to bring digital content to wider audiences.

Created by and starring YouTube sensations Theodore and Nathan Saidden, Superwog – the inspired-by-real-life tale of a flawed teenager and his crazed family in heartland suburbia – is also the first original scripted series to air on ABC COMEDY. This commission reaffirms ABC’s commitment to investing both in Australia’s emerging and culturally diverse comedic talents and in original scripted programming. The series also sees the ABC and YouTube embark on a new collaborative partnership.

Developed over eight years by the comedy duo, the Superwog YouTube channel has garnered an extraordinary 180+ million YouTube views and almost 900k subscribers, cementing their spot as Australia’s most watched YouTube comedy stars.

The Superwog series follows the often misunderstood, dysfunctional Superwog family as they struggle to navigate life in the Australian suburbs. Superwog is a porn and fast food obsessed teenager enrolled in a prestigious private school. His misadventures with best friend Johnny often cause Superwog’s primitive, highly-strung father extreme stress as he battles to keep his delusional but fiercely loyal wife happy.

ABC Head of Comedy Rick Kalowski said: “We’re so happy to bring Superwog to ABC, to be in first time business with YouTube, and for this to be our first scripted original for ABC COMEDY. Superwog’s Screen Australia/YouTube Skip Ahead Pilot was one of the funniest half hours I’d ever seen, and the full series is a cracking addition to our unrivalled comedy offering. ABC is serious about comedy, and about working with incredible Australian online comedy talents like Theo and Nathan Saidden to bring them to new audiences here and around the world.”

Sally Caplan, Head of Production at Screen Australia said: “The viral success of Superwog across their YouTube channel, boosted recently by their Skip Ahead pilot is simply staggering. To see them forge forward into this half hour series with YouTube and ABC COMEDY is an incredible opportunity for the Saidden brothers, as well as for both platforms exploring this innovative collaboration and release strategy.”

Head of YouTube Partnerships, Australia and New Zealand, Ed Miles, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Superwog in partnership with Screen Australia and the ABC, as they take this exciting step into creating narrative content. The Australian YouTube creator ecosystem is incredibly strong and it’s fantastic to see the ABC collaborate with creators to tell unique, local stories and embrace a multi-platform strategy to reach and engage audiences on YouTube as well as broadcast TV.”

Film Victoria CEO, Caroline Pitcher said “Edgy, irreverent and hilarious, Superwog has been a game changer in the online space and Melbourne’s Princess Pictures team have read this consumer popularity superbly. Congratulations to the Superwog and Princess Pictures team who will produce the entire long form series in Victoria.”

The Superwog pilot, funded by Screen Australia and Google as part of the Skip Ahead initiative, was the highest trending YouTube video in Australia last year, with over 3.4 million views (90% Australian based) and the most watched piece of content in the country in 2017.

The six by half-hour Superwog series will screen later this year.

Okay, so somewhere in this maze of funding bodies slapping each other on the back at having decided to give some cash to something that’s already massively successful, we’re going to assume an old-fashioned television series is getting made. Uh, yay?

Cry and the World Cries With You

Nanette, Hannah Gadsby’s farewell to comedy – though not, if you pay close attention, to live performance necessarily – has been going gangbusters the world over since it won the 2017 Barry Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. It’s gone on to win Best Comedy at the Adelaide Fringe, the Edinburgh Comedy Award, and a shed-load of glowing reviews from both UK and US critics as she’s toured the English-speaking world. There’s even a book due later in the year, titled Ten Steps to Nanette. It’s now available on Netflix. And it’s not a comedy.

Thing is, this isn’t news:

Thing is, Nanette’s not comedy.

“No. It’s narrative,” Gadsby says. It’s a string of stories that draw together the varied dark events of her life in the cause of demanding that the audience understand the damage society can visit upon children who find themselves on the outside. Like her.

Audiences and critics who have borne witness to the raw power of Nanette tend to leave the theatre not remembering the jokes so much as the emotion invested in the performance.

So, to get the obvious side of things out of the way: Nanette is an astonishingly powerful and well-crafted hour of stand-up, an absolute must-see for which words like “devastating” barely scratch the surface. Shows this memorable and angry come along rarely;  we humbly suggest you don’t let this particular kick to the head pass you by.

That said, if you’re desperately in need of the healing power of laughter, this may not be the show for you. In fact, a large chunk of the show is built around the idea that laughter is not the best medicine, and can (and often is) be used to hide some of the harsher truths of our society. These truths aren’t exactly news to anyone paying attention to the current state of our society – straight white men, hang your heads in shame – but they’re illustrated with a depth and power here that hammer them home hard.

So effective is Nanette, and so deeply personal is Gadsby’s story, that there hasn’t been all that much (that we’ve seen) discussion of her thesis. Which is a shame, because it’s one that deserves further unpacking: if there are things comedy can’t do, what do we do with comedy?

In Nanette, comedy is largely about creating tension, then defusing it. But according to Gadsby, this artificial tension is fake; worse, it’s part of an abusive, manipulative relationship. She then proceeds to burn down the whole edifice in electrifying fashion, driven by an anger that’s clearly exhausting to deal with – and she’s been dealing with it for her entire adult life.

The problem with countering her argument is that many of the examples where comedy has been used to tackle issues seemingly above its pay grade have been made by the aforementioned straight white men. And make no mistake: this show is not on their side. During a blistering take-down of the history of Western (high) Art, Gadsby makes it very clear that she has very little time for artists who claim that their art allows them free reign, or just suggest that painting nudes is about more than what gets their rocks off. It’s a show driven by anger, but its message is one of compassion – and disdain for art that encourages us to see others as less than human, because that leads to a whole lot of very bad things.

Unfortunately, no matter which direction you’re punching, seeing others as less than human is also how comedy often works. And so Nanette consigns comedy to the bin.

Nanette is a show by a performer who feels that comedy no longer enables her to accurately tell her truth, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll come away from it disagreeing with her. So raw and bruising is that truth that it only feels right to agree that anything that stifles that voice is something we should cast aside.

But she’s talking about comedy. You can see our dilemma.

Don’t forget to rate and review us

Rather old news, this, but Childproof, which we reviewed last year, won Best Comedy at this year’s Australian Podcast Awards. Why do we bring this up? Because, out of curiosity, we’ve spent the past month listening to the five other comedy podcasts it beat.

What was particularly interesting was the range of styles out there. It’s all too easy to think of comedy podcasts as being “some stand-ups natter on” or “the best bits from an Austereo radio show” because most of the popular and well-known comedy podcasts are one of them. But these five programs showed that there are plenty of different types of podcast being made – and some are worth subscribing to. Anyway, here’s what we thought of them…


Obscure Music History

This series of mini music documentaries by musician Tom Hogan looks at obscure B-sides from bands and composers you’ve never heard of. Ranging from 60’s pop to musical theatre to more contemporary styles, this includes interviews with the musicians and a full play of the song being profiled. It’s a bit like The Blow Parade but with lower production values. Having said that, it’s every bit as much a geek out for music lovers and there are some note-perfect parodies of many well-known genres.

Bloody Murder

Imagine My Dad Wrote A Porno except they’re reading out descriptions of infamous real-life serial killings rather than bad sex fiction. That’s right, detailed descriptions of real-life murders and sex crimes being interrupted by sarcastic comments. It shouldn’t work…and it mostly doesn’t. Flippancy isn’t really the right response to a description of murder, incest, rape or torture, even if the comments are never directed at the victims or their families. Unless you have a very strong stomach for this kind of humour, this isn’t for you. And anyone with any personal experience of this kind of crime should avoid Bloody Murder altogether.

Attitude Consultant

This parody of self-help and life-coaching podcasts offers guidance on how to succeed at life. Host Rohan Harry dispenses his wisdom backed by inspirational, high-energy music and sound effects, in a series of increasingly bizarre episodes. In the most recent episode, Harry tried to help Siri improve her life, resulting in an hilarious circular conversation which should really have led to the device short-circuiting. Worth a listen.

The Wallet Inspectors

Wallet Inspectors Michael Vilkins, Alex Jones and Luke Gold speak to a different celebrity or notable person each week and ask them what their wallet looks like and what’s in. This could be funny but often isn’t. With this kind of thing, there are two ways to add comic value to the premise: 1. Funny questions, 2. Funny answers and The Wallet Inspectors often fails on both counts. The result is 25 minutes of a B- or C-list celeb explaining what’s in their wallet. Think about your wallet, does it contain anything interesting or funny? No? Exactly.

Welcome to Patchwork

A list of podcasts wouldn’t be complete with at least one “three blokes sit around talking about stuff” podcast, and here it is. Christian, Dion and Josh are friends talking about their lives. You know the deal, if you happen to find these three guys funny you enjoy the show, if you don’t, you unsubscribe. And when it comes to this done-to-death genre of podcast, we’ve heard much better than Welcome to Patchwork, even if the stories about Italian grandparents are kind of endearing.

The Ongoing Insurgency

There’s a number of ways to look at this shock development:

Rebel Wilson plans to appeal yesterday’s ruling that Bauer Media pay her $600,000 in general damages, losing $3.9m in special damages.

She took to Twitter overnight to indicate her fury, presumably planning to pursue it with the High Court of Australia.

Oh right, the tweets:

I was hoping the Court of Appeal in Australia would deliver a reasonable judgement today….ummmmm seeing as that HAS CLEARLY NOT happened I look forward to appealing! There’s some really bizarre things in there guys that are so obviously challengeable!

Everybody knows I lost money after those maliciously defamatory articles were printed about me by @bauermedia in 2015. The learned trial judge and Australian jury on the case who heard all the evidence clearly agreed.

Was it wrong of me to pledge that the money received from the case was going to good causes?? To me, after working tirelessly day and night to rebuild my career, I thought it was the right thing to do.

But somehow the Court of Appeal have been absolutely flippant with regards to my economic loss, not to mention my overall hurt and distress at having to stand up to these bullies.

That’s now $4 million less going to less fortunate Australians and leaves a billionaire corporation, proven guilty of malicious defamation, being able to get away with their seriously harmful acts for a very low pay day! Clearly not fair. Come on Australia 🇦🇺

Actually, on second read… is she really planning to appeal? “I look forward to appealing” sounds like the kind of thing a celebrity tweets off the top of their head before getting proper legal advice. “There’s some really bizarre things in there guys that are so obviously challangeable!” But let’s take her at her word.

“Everybody knows I lost money”. We can think of at least one judge who disagrees.

“Was it wrong of me to pledge that the money received from the case was going to good causes??” No it wasn’t. Did her future plans for the money have anything to do with the case? No they didn’t. Would it be wrong to point out here that part of the original case was based on the argument that Rebel Wilson’s public statements don’t always line up with objective reality? Well, she won the case, so that argument clearly isn’t true. This just in: Wilson really is related to Walt Disney.

“After working tirelessly day and night to rebuild my career”. Hey, nobody asked her to do that.

“But somehow the Court of Appeal have been absolutely flippant with regards to my economic loss”. Because still getting to take home $600,000 means nothing?

“That’s now $4 million less going to less fortunate Australians”. Wait, didn’t she originally say:

“Support the Australian film industry”? Putting aside the question of whether they fit the definition of “less fortunate Australians”, when was the last time Wilson made a film here? That’d be the 2011 hit A Few Best Men. Maybe if this particular internationally famous superstar wanted to support the local film industry, a good way would be to, you know, occasionally turn up in a local film to add her pulling power to the marque.

“While this case was never about the money for me”. We refer you to her use of the phrase “economic loss”. And “I lost money”. And “pay me”.

We could go on. After all, for someone so intimately aware of the damage name-calling can do, she’s pretty quick with terms like “losers”. But seriously, can everyone involved in this just go away now?

Crush the Rebellion

So this just happened:

Magazine publisher Bauer Media has had a major win in its appeal over Rebel Wilson’s defamation suit and will now have to pay the actress $600,000.

The final figure is significantly less than the $4.5 million the Pitch Perfect star had originally been awarded in damages after she was defamed in a series of magazine articles.

The Court of Appeal handed down its judgment in Melbourne on Thursday and Wilson was not present in court for the ruling.

We’re not exactly busting out our surprised faces for this one – they’re still in the workshop after the initial judgement was announced. Mostly because this was kind of obvious:

The appeal court said the defamation caused “hurt and distress” and reassessed her damages for non-economic loss, including aggravated compensatory damages, down from $650,000 to $600,000.

But it rejected her claim of lost opportunity to be offered and then cast in lead or co-lead roles in Hollywood movies at basic remuneration of US$5 million or more which she claimed had been cancelled after the articles were published.

“The court of appeal held that, for a considerable number of reasons, the critical inferences drawn by the judge could not be upheld,” the judgment said.

“It followed that the judge’s award of damages for economic loss had to be set aside. Further, there was no basis in the evidence for making any award of damages for economic loss. The court is yet to determine the issues of interest and costs.”

Much as it’s tempting to think “oh great, now the magazines can go back to just printing pretty much anything, booo”, this is actually good news: if a celebrity could rake in millions in “lost income” based on projections they largely supplied themselves, it’d rapidly become extremely difficult for anyone to say anything negative about any media celebrity for fear of “damaging their career”.

And that’d be us out of a job for starters.

Ding Dong I’m Gay

Australia doesn’t have a great history of making sitcoms with gay characters; Please Like Me and Outland are the only ones that immediately spring to mind. As for sitcoms featuring lesbians, bisexuals, or anyone else who could be classified as LGBTQIA+, there are even less or them. So, it was nice to get a media release last month about Ding Dong I’m Gay:

Launching today is the new queer-positive web comedy, Ding Dong I’m Gay, created by award-winning writer Tim Spencer and directed by Sarah Bishop of Skit Box and Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am. Offering new, exciting and entertaining LGBTQIA+ content for an online audience hungry for positive and diverse stories, Ding Dong I’m Gay dives into the fantastical realities of bad sex, unwanted house-guests, the queer experience and hostile first-aid instructors.

Ding Dong… episode one introduces Cameron (Tim Spencer), an out gay man living in Sydney with paranoid Chinese student Sweetie (Alex Lee), who suddenly finds himself having to put up cousin Toby, who’s just arrived from the country. Assuming Toby is homophobic, Cameron initially hides his sexuality, but then Toby reveals all: he’s gay too.

Ding Dong I'm Gay

What follows are two further episodes showing Cameron inducting Toby into Sydney’s gay scene. We see Cameron give advice on what is and isn’t appropriate wear for a twink film festival, and Toby learning about the gay scene on Instagram and how he can get free stuff.

There’s some promise here – and we’d like to see more – but it’s difficult to judge this show on three episodes, which altogether last about 10 minutes. And with most of the screen time in these episodes given to Cameron and Toby, it’s a bit hard to work out what the deal is with Sweetie, other than that she’s paranoid and a bit violent, and what roles, if any, pregnant neighbour Lucy (Sarah Bishop) and boyfriend Jack (Rupert Ranieri) will play in this story.

Still, it’s nice to see some different stories being told, and more episodes are on the way:

The planned series will continue to follow the loveable Ding Dong I’m Gay characters as they navigate the potholes and politics of the contemporary queer scene.

The first three episodes of Ding Dong I’m Gay are on YouTube.

The Apple Isle Bites

Press release time!

Cameras ready to roll in Tasmania on Rosehaven series three

The multi-award-winning ABC and SundanceTV (USA) comedy series Rosehaven, written by and starring two of Australia’s favourite comedians Luke McGregor and Celia Pacquola, starts filming this month in Tasmania.

Reprising their 2018 Logie nominated roles for Most Popular Actor and Actress, series three finds best friends and workmates Daniel (Luke McGregor) and Emma (Celia Pacquola) now ensconced as bona fide Rosehaven real estate agents.  Weathering a storm of recalcitrant landlords, anxiety inducing tenants and an overbearing boss (Daniel’s mum), series three sees them also faced with big changes in their personal lives and a real estate opportunity that threatens to divide the whole town.

The hit ABC comedy will showcase Tasmania’s unique stories, characters and landscapes to the rest of the world. Filming over seven weeks in Tasmania, Rosehaven will feature locations such as Oatlands, Geeveston, New Norfolk, Longley, Richmond, Seven Mile Beach, Mountain River, Brighton and Chigwell.

Head of ABC Comedy Rick Kalowski said: “Being back in Tasmania making Rosehaven Series 3 for ABC, and Sundance thanks to our US partners, is a joy. I’ve had few more thrilling days than when Celia and Luke first pitched it – knowing immediately ABC had to make it, and that it had the potential to charm audiences worldwide. And so it’s proved to be.”

The third series of Rosehaven will boost Tasmania’s television industry and talent, on and off camera, including the full-time employment of 35 Tasmanian practitioners and additional full-time training roles on the crew, supported by Screen Tasmania.

The ABC’s investment in Tasmanian productions has more than doubled since 2014/15, exemplifying the ABC’s unrivalled commitment to high-quality, distinctive Australian content across the country.

Rosehaven series 3 starts filming Monday 18th June.

What we wouldn’t give to have been in the ABC offices when they realised they “had to make” Rosehaven. Can you imagine the excitement? Two of the ABC’s comedy stalwarts coming in with a pitch so compelling the network knew “immediately” that they had to make it. Thrilling stuff!

As for those various behind-the-scene deals with Screen Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government that put a bunch of money into the series, they clearly had absolutely nothing to do with the ABC’s decision.

Media Release: Thursday 28 April 2016


Production is set to commence in Tasmania on Rosehaven, a new eight-part comedy series for ABC TV.  From the production base at the ABC Centre in Hobart, the series will be filmed entirely on location in the state, creating jobs for 200 Tasmanians as cast, crew and extras.   In addition, 8 emerging screen practitioners will be engaged by the production in training positions funded by Screen Tasmania.  Tasmanian actors have been cast in over 80% of the sixty roles in the series.

Rosehaven is the latest in a string of first class screen productions to be filmed in Tasmania.  The seven week shoot will feature variety of locations across South East Tasmania.  Geeveston, in the stunning Huon Valley south of Hobart, will provide the main street for the fictional town of Rosehaven, whilst historic New Norfolk in the Derwent Valley will provide other parts of the town centre and several other key locations for the series.

Jonathan Brough (The Family Law, Sammy J & Randy In Rickett’s Lane, It’s A Date, The Time Of Our Lives) will direct seven of the eight episodes, whilst Hobart based director Shaun Wilson (Noirhouse) will make his long form television directorial debut.  Leading Tasmanian screen practitioner Fiona McConaghy (The Kettering Incident, Noirhouse, The Outlaw Michael Howe) is Co-Producer on the series alongside Producer Andrew Walker (The Kettering Incident, Wanted, Mr & Mrs Murder, A Moody Christmas).

Minister for the Arts Vanessa Goodwin said television series like Rosehaven cement Tasmania’s reputation as an exceptional filming destination, with a number of major Australian and international productions being filmed here in recent years.

The Tasmanian Government is a strong supporter of our screen industry and I’m very pleased that our investment in this project will support local actors and crew, in addition to boosting the economy and growing our state’s profile in the screen sector.’

Seriously, how could any of this have affected the ABC’s decision? We now know that on the day it was pitched the ABC decided “immediately” they had to make it.

It was just lucky that this particular sitcom pitch would “showcase Tasmania’s unique stories, characters and landscapes to the rest of the world” and “feature locations such as Oatlands, Geeveston, New Norfolk, Longley, Richmond, Seven Mile Beach, Mountain River, Brighton and Chigwell” as well as helping to “boost Tasmania’s television industry and talent, on and off camera”.

After all, that’s what audiences look for in a sitcom.

Taking it One Day at a Time

Let’s try this-

-from a slightly different angle for once: what’s good about The Weekly with Charlie Pickering?

Well, okay… let’s start with that it’s a show that takes advantage of its lengthy run and weekly schedule to change things up. Remember when Tom Gleeson’s fake travel segment Go Away was the only halfway decent thing about that one episode? The producers sure did, because it’s back! And with Gleeson asking for suggestions at the end of the segment, you just know it’s coming soon to a town near you. Probably more than one.

But what about his other popular segment, Hard Chat? Don’t worry, he also let us know that’ll be back next week because The Weekly is also a show that gives the viewers what they want. And it seems that what they want is a whole lot of Tom Gleeson; it’s not a new observation that Gleeson is the clear number two on The Weekly, with Kitty “not really in this episode, guys” Flanagan a distant third and Briggs not on the show at all.

That’s because Gleeson seems to be the only cast member who’s willing to try new things; Pickering is a smarmy host 4lyfe, and Flanagan is pretty much still plowing the same furrow she was when she came on board. While that often works great for her as far as laughs go, it does mean that, as The Weekly is clearly a show that’s never quite found its groove, it’s easy to file her under things that don’t quite work.

This is unfair, of course: she’s almost always the funniest thing on the episodes she appears on. But The Weekly, taken as a whole, clearly doesn’t work. It desperately needs to try new things. Hello Tom Gleeson.

Obviously there’s a few downsides to The Weekly’s willingness to try new things beyond giving Gleeson loads of air time: for one, a lot of this season seems to have been experimenting with the idea of having everyone act even smugger than usual, which is not a good look for a show with very little to be smug about. Worse, this willingness doesn’t go right down to the level where it would really make a difference: the comedy.

All too often on The Weekly the packaging is slightly different but the actual laugh-generating material remains the same: straight news delivered with smarm, followed by “check out this hilarious clip we got from breakfast television / pay TV”, followed by Tom Gleeson treating people like shit. Remember when we said Tom Gleeson was willing to try new things? What we meant to say was that he’s willing to do the exact same thing in a different setting. What is Go Away really but Hard Chat except he’s insulting regular people? Which is also Hard Quiz the game show. Can’t wait to see what he’ll do next!

If all Gleeson can do as a comedian is treat people like shit – seriously, point out something he’s done in the last five years that hasn’t been based on this dull as fuck idea – then the only way to keep it fresh is to keep putting him in new situations. Hard Chat worked briefly because it was him doing his usual crap in a different setting; same with Go Away. So keep finding different settings!

(of course, that costs money, so… no)

There’s a bunch of reasons why The Weekly has never settled into a comfortable rut. Going viral never really happened. Most of the early big plans never happened. But a big, big part of it is that it’s a show built around months and months of the same three people who just keep on doing the same thing. The few times The Weekly has worked have almost always been when they’ve found a new spin to put on things: remember when Pickering went out to interview Sam Neil at his farm? But they never seem to find enough new angles for the same old cast, and so they keep being dragged back to the same old place.

If someone ever put together a “best of breakfast television” weekly clip package they’d all be out of a job.