While we were getting all worked-up about the likes of Balls of Steel Australia and The Janoskians for the 2012 Australian Tumbleweed Awards, The Comedy Channel started airing their latest “original” pranks show Off Their Rockers. Based on the American program Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, which in turn was based on the Belgian program Benidorm Bastards, Off Their Rockers sees a gang of senior citizens hitting the streets of Sydney, doing unexpected things in front of the public.
The ensuing hilarity is linked by sports commentator Sam Kekovich, who helpfully explains the premise (because presumably we’re too stupid to spot it ourselves): this show features a bunch of oldies behaving like teenagers. Cue 30 minutes of home video camera footage of elderly people snogging in the street, smoking reefers in the park, and asking for Cowboy Cocksuckers in pubs.
As a throwaway piece of summertime TV aimed at bored people this is just about acceptable. And unlike shows such as Balls of Steel Australia, at least the laughs come from the ludicrousness of the old timers’ behaviour and the bewildered reactions of the young people in their vicinity rather than the mean-spirited targeting of innocent passers-by: two elderly women walking past a building site yelling “Show us your tits!” at the builders makes the builders laugh – no one’s being harmed there.
What is irritating about Off The Rockers is the shooting style. The pranks themselves are quick and done reasonably well, but then the seniors walk out of shot and the camera closes in on the group of teens who happened to be sitting nearby. And then stays there for ages. The editor’s even slowed that part of the footage down to emphasise how bewildering/hilarious the teens found the oldies’ antics. And what with that and Kekovich’s pointless narration it feels like the makers of the show are trying to make a small amount of footage go a lot further than it should, which for a show which probably cost about $1.50 to make seems penny-pinching in the extreme.