In one of our semi-regular trawls for Australian comedy online we recently came across the web series Lights, Camera, Maction! made by and starring Perth radio personality Sam Mac. Episode 1 wasn’t too bad for a deliberately shonky series aimed at the YouTube audience; Peter Helliar was mocked for his succession of axed sports/comedy shows, there was a segment called What Girls Like! in which Sam and David M. Green tried to appeal to women, and things wound-up in true YouTube style with some bad karaoke and a dancing cat. Fair enough as a first attempt.
The only problem is that every subsequent episode has been roughly the same, except that there’s now an ongoing gag about Joseph Fritzel being more popular than the show. But, as that Fritzel gag isn’t really being developed much (more done over and over again), well, put it this way, our search for really amazing Australian comedy online continues.
Viewing these videos in the week of the debut of Hamish & Andy’s Gap Year, a show which also features a similarly shonky style and a number of familiar conceits, sure made us wonder why many comedians and producers in this country don’t realise that doing roughly the same thing over and over again is just going to get boring for audiences. With Hamish & Andy’s Gap Year this point is particularly key because wasn’t their move away from daily radio and into TV supposed to be about them trying some new ideas?
Unfortunately for viewers expecting something fresh and exciting from the Kings of Radio, their low-budget, shonky take on the US late night talk show didn’t really work, although not because it was low-budget shonk, it was that lack of ideas thing again. Particularly a lack of new ideas, or different ideas, or crucially, good ideas. Run out of those, particularly in comedy, and audiences drift away.
Which is why we’re kind of sad that every episode of Lights, Camera, Action! is roughly the same show. The individual sketch ideas are quite good (if only done once) and the series manages to both revel in and mock YouTube’s obsession with dancing animals, lame graphics and filming yourself being a dickhead for no reason. Like Hamish & Andy, the spirit is right, but the new ideas just aren’t there.