… no, we’re not being sarcastic. Though you’d be forgiven for thinking so, as those winners – well, the only winners who fall under our gaze here – happen to be Chris Lilley (for best performance in a comedy) and Laid (for best comedy series). Suffice to say we wouldn’t have been voting for them unless the prize was a much-needed copy of Kochie’s Joke Book.
While we might be deeply disappointed with the result, we can’t even pretend to be in the slightest way surprised. The AACTAs – previously known as the AFIs, and still run by the Australian Film Institute – are not entirely voted on by hard core comedy fans. Or even people who like comedy. Or even people who watch comedy. What they do like, is “quality”.
For some of them, that means saluting people who have power within the industry – and considering a second series of Laid was greenlit pretty much the moment the first ended while numerous other ABC comedy series either had to wait months for the thumbs up to a follow-up (Judith Lucy) or don’t seem to have announced anything yet, which can’t be good (Twentysomething, The Bazura Project), it’s safe to assume creator Marieke Hardy and clout are not complete strangers. As for Lilley, get him to put in a good word for you with HBO, okay?
For others, it means saluting all the things we here at Tumbleweed Central firmly believe have nothing whatsoever to do with making people laugh: art direction, fancy camerawork, nice dresses, “serious moments”, a high media profile and so on. Which both series had in spades, largely to make up for the fact that neither could tell a joke to save a life. Plenty of jokes that were dead on arrival though.
Look, while we might be constantly, irrationally angry we’re not entirely stupid. Comedy is a populist art form and the AACTAs (though they’ve firmly broadened their scope since the days when Somersault won everything) are still largely focused up the highbrow / quality end of the street. As they should be: we’ve already got the Logies. And the Tumbles [/plug].
It just means that the AACTA voters’ view of what makes a comedy great – which gets reported in every major newspaper and news website across the land – is wrong while ours – which gets reported, uh, here – is the one that actually takes into account the fact that comedy is about making people laugh.