Blah Blah Blah

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that Australian comedy is currently not operating at peak efficiency. In fact, it’s coughing its guts up all over the place. Duds to the left, ratings flops to the right, tired old formats hacking out their final breath everywhere else. What does it say about a field when the most exciting thing to happen all year is a rehash* of a show that finished five years** ago made by a fifty year-old*** who’s been in the business since the mid-1990s? Meanwhile, down at the cutting edge, we can look forward to this:

SHOCK of the NOW!
Hosted by Tom Ballard – you can totally join us, because it’s free!

Wednesday 10th October 2012
Please arrive by 6:00PM SHARP!
Channel 10 Studios – 1 Saunders Street PYRMONT NSW 2009
We are looking for an audience to come and join us and host TOM BALLARD for a taping of a new TV show on all things digital:

Wednesday 10 October 2012, 6:00PM at Channel 10 Studios – 1 Saunders Street, Pyrmont.

SHOCK of the NOW is a smart, challenging, fun, irreverent and unpredictable show that takes on the digital realm.

Expect robust discussions, live stupidity, funny clips, ‘fuck me’ moments, and the best and worst of the digital world.

SHOCK of the NOW wants to do to the digital world what Top Gear did with cars, Gruen did with advertising and Masterchef did with cravats.

To book tickets, please contact:

Ursula Mellor at Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder: or fill out this form and we’ll contact you to confirm your attendance

Be quick as tickets are limited and organised on a first-come-first-in basis!

(thanks to EvilCommieDictator for bringing this to our attention)

Seriously, it’s not physically possible for us to say “what the fuck” in a tone weary enough to express our utter contempt for every single aspect of this God-forsaken project. Is there any aspect of modern life Andrew Denton isn’t going to try and slap “the Gruen take” on? And this isn’t even covering a thing that’s actually a new thing, considering regular vanilla brand Gruen is already all up in the world of youtube clips and viral what-the-fucks. Is this a half hour “check out this cool tumblr” show? WHO FUCKING CARES.

Enter Tom Ballard. Is it possible to be bone-tired of someone who’s yet to actually do anything? Let’s find out! Apart from his semi-regular “let me say offensive and vaguely reactionary stuff because FREEDOM OF SPEECH BRO” outbursts, we’re yet to have our attention drawn to anything this breakfast radio jock has done that seems intended to cause actual laughter. Combine that with the fact he’s stepping into a role traditionally Wil Anderson-shaped, and… whatever. Who cares. Fuck.

Seriously, despite the uptick in the number of comedy shows currently being made – and don’t get us for a second wrong here, we’re really happy that at least we have more than three Australian comedy shows a year to watch – we seem to be getting a heavy dose of bugger all when it comes to actual variety, let alone fresh faces. Again, don’t get us wrong, Australian comedy is always going to have more good people than good shows to put them on. But considering the current cloud of lethargy hanging over the field of televised comedy, here and now is not the time to give a bunch of tired talentless chumps another swing on the merry-go-round.

Let’s look at what’s currently screening, shall we? Randling is the funeral home stink that will not fade and Gruen is scratching desperately for crumbs it hasn’t already re-chewed while giving off the impression it’s doing well purely because everything else this year has sunk without trace. Lowdown is a decent six-part idea that’s been given sixteen episodes over two years because why not, The Hamster Wheel is good solid comedy – that is to say, anything worse than The Hamster Wheel should not get a second series – the promos for the upcoming Unbelievable Truth look so much like the previous half-dozen commercial television panel yawn-fests it’ll be born dead whatever the class of the on-camera talent and every single thing that’s meant to be coming up between now and the end of the year is just more of the same. More Hamish & Andy road trips? More quirky ABC dramedies? More dramatic ABC quirkedies?Gaaaah.

What Australian comedy needs more than anything right now – well, not more than it needs to be funny, but that’s a whole ‘nother problem – is some sense of excitement. Even in 2012 people still get slightly excited about television, whether it’s The Voice or Puberty Blues or those Jack Irish telemovies or The Block. Drama shows have buzz. Reality shows have buzz. Comedy has zzz and it’s not the same thing.

The best shows of this year have come from seasoned professionals doing the kind of thing they always do. That’s exactly the kind of thing Australian comedy needs. But on top of that, we need shows that get people talking. What was the last comedy that did that? Live From Planet Earth? Forget we said anything.

But seriously: there hasn’t been a comedy this year (with the possible exception of Mad as Hell) that’s had any kind of buzz or excitement around it at all. No-one’s excited that Lowdown is back. No-one cares who wins the Randling trophy. No-one’s even talking about Can of Worms. And so long as Australian television’s idea of new comedy is sticking some easily molded self-promoter in front of a bog-standard clapped-out boring-as-shit format, comedy is going to continue to remain something no-one gives a flying fuck about.


*Mad as Hell


***Shaun Micallef

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  • Tim says:

    I got that email, they should have had cameras in my house at the time as there were plenty of ‘fuck me’ moments.

  • Andrew says:

    I think more people will be watching/talking about Can Of Worms now that the Alan Jones fan club have taken offence to a comment made in comparing having sex with Alan Jones with eating a plate full of cockroaches. (and the comparison was clarified as …a REALLY BIG plate btw)

  • The Doogster says:

    Fear not – I am in the middle of writing a hernia-inducingly funny sitcom. When I’ve finished, all I will need to do is change my name to Marieke Hardy and I’ll have no trouble getting the ABC to produce it.

  • simbo says:

    I’m going to put in a very, very slight defence of “Randling” here. The obvious problems are, well, obvious – the games themselves are stupid, the idea of taking a performer’s ability to actually do well at them as an indication of whether they should come back again is incredibly stupid (if ability to play the game was a criteria, Hamish Blake would never have come back to “Spicks and Specks”, Alan Davies would never be back on “QI”, etc), and Denton just doesn’t have the necessary breeziness to be a game show host and instead comes across as a smarmy git.

    BUT. All that being said, it has had a great opportunity for some performers who haven’t, for whatever reason, been getting a gig recently. The double-act of David Marr and Jonathan Biggins, for instance, may get a prize for the most adorably old-school ABC thing on TV this year. And it’s attrocious that it takes something like this for talents like Anthony Morgan or Heath Franklin to get a regular TV gig again (why, out of all the Ronnie Johns team, is Dan Illic the one who’s got the most work since? That makes no sense to me whatsoever). Yes, they’re mostly performers who have been around a while, but the important thing is, most of them are performers of skill (although there are a couple of cases where it’s certainly “mates of Denton” in there) and deserving of the exposure.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    That’s been the biggest disappointment with Randling – the fact that it really does feature some top grade talent yet does next to nothing with them. You’d have to think the fact they needed so many performers (and ones that were clearly different from each other) was a factor in forcing them to look outside the usual faces, and they’re to be congratulated for doing so.

    And yet, the show’s still shit. Worse, these guys have made their TV comeback on a shit show, which doesn’t exactly bode well for our ever seeing them again.

  • UnSubject says:

    Dear me.

    Tom Ballard barely manages to create an impression as 50% of a breakfast team. I’ll need a lot of convincing that he can 100% host a TV show.

    And then there is this:

    “Expect robust discussions, live stupidity, funny clips, ‘fuck me’ moments, and the best and worst of the digital world.”

    There will be no ‘robust’ discussions going on among all the rest of those things. You can’t shove good analysis of topics like (say) freedom of speech in the Violentacrez example between LOLCATS and wacky YouTube clips.

    I can only imagine the people who greenlighted this thought, “You know what’s popular with young people? The internet! Let’s put it on TV and they’ll watch!”