Paul Fenech is, for whatever reason, SBS’s premiere contribution to Australian comedy. For over a decade now he’s made basically the same show for them under three different names: Pizza, Swift & Shift and now Housos. That show consists of extremely broad stereotypes played by non-professional actors shouting loudly while the camera tilts and swings around wildly. We’d call it “cartoony”, but we actually like cartoons.
So what’s the depth of comic invention on offer here? Let’s quote some sample dialogue from Shazza, Dazza, Franky and the rest.
“Just for a change he got to buy a car instead of stealing one”.
“What’re you grinning about, cockhead?”
“I think I pulled a muscle in my fucking arse!” “You’re fucking soft Shazza”
“I can see her fucking undies”
“Look, it’s penisaurus on his spastic scooter”
We could go on.
The real comedy here has come from the various serious media outlets wondering if the “politically incorrect” series will cause all manner of social upheaval.
“I get offended by people who get offended. I think there’s some sort of Nazi political correctness happening in Australia. The principals of political correctness are good but we have the top ten per cent of Australia wanting to nanny state everything we do. We’re not responsible for ourselves. We can’t decide what’s funny. What’s insulting is you can’t have a joke in Australia. Housos is the most ango-friendly show I’ve done. I’m copping it for having a go at bogans – are you serious?”
He has a point. Then again, he also wrote this:
“You’re fucked in the face Daz”
So, having watched the first episode of Housos free of the heavy hand of political correctness, let’s treat it with the respect it treats the home viewer: get fucked.
Fenech’s slapstick style is, well, energetic, and he’s not afraid to pile on the jokes. But the jokes are all the same joke: a dickhead swears a lot and does something stupid. Then another dickhead does something slightly different while swearing. Then someone swears. Then someone does something stupid. Then there’s a close up of some boobs. Then maybe there’s a midget.
The big difference with Housos is that some of the characters are bogans instead of wogs. Don’t worry tho, there’s still loads of racial stereotypes, and they all swear while doing stupid things.
“Some people don’t fucking deserve kids!”
“Bring it ya dumb fucking bitch”
“If you ever see Sunnyvale girls punching on, fuck off quick”
So who cares if the “plot” – the whole cast tries to figure out a way to qualify for the disabled pension so they can slack off (well, slack even more off) – might offend some easily offended tools. What’s offending us is that he’s been doing the same thing again and again and again in moderately different settings since 2000. Back then Pizza was a mildly amusing sitcom (and the Pizza movie was stupid but fun too); these days it’s just the same old shit reheated so many times even the stink doesn’t get a reaction any more.
“Fuck off Frankie, now ya cashed up ya can pay child support ya cockhead”
Not that the Australian media’s worked that out, even if Fenech is simply using the same method of stirring up attention as everyone else these days: get Australia’s increasingly rabid tabloid press to pay attention to you and free coverage is yours for the taking. As Fenech told marketing site Mumbrella,
“SBS only does a certain number of marketing recourses. So I have put my own money and heart into this.”
Here’s a tip: next time, put some of the money and heart into coming up with some new jokes. Having every single character be a shouting fuckhead kinda gets old after a while no matter how many burn outs and arse shots you throw in there. And by “kinda old”, we mean “fucking dull, ya cockhead”.