It’s difficult to know which is more unsettling: that the ABC is currently running ads in prime time asking people to vote for Adam Hills in the Gold Logie race, or that the ad claims that “a vote for Adam is a vote for fantastic comedy and entertainment on the ABC”.
[yes, there are days when the blog posts seem to just write themselves]
Really? Adam Hills means “fantastic comedy and entertainment on the ABC”? If you squint really hard then maybe “entertainment” isn’t all that far off – he does host a couple of the ABC’s more competent broad-based light entertainment efforts – but “fantastic comedy”? From Adam Hills? The guy who occasionally cracks wise while hosting game shows and talk shows? Okay, there’s no doubt that people often laugh at things he says, but…
Well, there’s really no reason why someone hosting a game show can’t create “fantastic comedy”. It’s just that Adam Hills isn’t the example we’d hold up to the world. He seems nice, he can sell a joke, he’s generous when it comes to laughing at the gags of others, but “fantastic comedy”? No. He’s the ABC’s version of Rove McManus (and no, that’s not an insult), a decent host who knows enough to get out of the way and let others shine when need be.
More importantly, if a vote for Adam is a vote for fantastic comedy, what if everyone votes for the woman off The Circle instead? If Hills doesn’t win, will the ABC go “well, clearly the public has no interest in fantastic comedy, time to shut up shop” – right before some junior runs in waving a DVD of Angry Boys saying “hang on – they only wanted us to stop showing fantastic comedy, right?”
The real issue here, of course, is whether the ABC should be out there wasting airtime begging for votes in a shoddy popularity contest in the first place. Realistically though, why not? They’ve been going flat-out for ratings for years now, to such an extent that in most ways the old divide between the ABC and the commercial networks no longer exists.
The fact that now the audience is split more between people who watch TV and those who don’t rather than the old ABC / commercial divide is good news for comedy in general. If you watch television, you have a pretty good idea that decent Australian comedy at least exists on television – even if the commercial networks screw it up every single change they get. But it also means that the ABC now runs ads pleading for viewers to vote for an award that means basically nothing to anyone outside the television industry, and nothing to anyone inside the industry (who didn’t win one) by the morning after the last party winds up.
So we wish Hills well in his quest for fame and glory. Just so long as he doesn’t actually win: if the ABC started getting the idea that the public’s taste in “fantastic comedy” begins and ends with a genial host firing off questions, well… okay, it’d be pretty much business as usual. Whatever happened to that Peter Helliar sports show, anyway?