Coming to Movie Extra next month is The Jesters, a sitcom which promises to “satirise the satirists”. In the show Mick Molloy plays former comedian Dave Davies, who takes four “upstarts” from the world of student newspapers and gives them their own TV show…but, ratings are poor and the show isn’t funny so Davies tries to whip up some cheap publicity by asking one of the team to get arrested.
A recent Herald Sun article previewing The Jesters drew comparisons with The Chaser’s War on Everything and quoted the shows’ writers Kevin Brumpton and Angus FitzSimons as saying “We thought it would be a funny idea to make a satire about satirists; to take a punch at the people who were throwing the punches”.
As someone who was hugely disappointed by The Chaser’s War on Everything and deeply irritated by the media hype which surrounded it, I should be looking forward to The Jesters, but even with the comparisons to The Larry Sanders Show and Frontline I suspect it won’t deliver.
Any decent send-up of The Chaser’s War On Everything would need to poke fun not only at the way in which the media (or was that the ABC’s publicity department?) wrung controversy out of nothing, but the wowserish responses to that controversy. Also worth taking a pop at would be the way in which The Chaser team rarely dealt with the important issues, the fact that most of the show couldn’t really be described as satire, and the poor, repetitive writing which became far more of a hallmark of the program than the APEC stunt or Make A Realistic Wish sketch.
It would be lovely to think The Jesters would take a full-spectrum look at the big topic of TV satire in the way that The Wire looked not just at the war on drugs, but the way in which politics, society, unions and the education system intersects with and influences that war. But given that Brumpton and FitzSimons’ writing credits include Comedy Inc, BackBerner, David Tench Tonight, Life Support, The Big Bite, Double Take, Good News Week, Hole in the Wall – and CNNNN – I very much doubt it. This will most likely be a surface-level send-up of sketch comedy by interested insiders and a program which confirms the stereotypes rather than challenges them. It won’t be the next Frontline, it’ll be the next Stupid Stupid Man.