Shaun Micallef is Mad as Hell is back. Our long national nightmare is over. It’s not until you actually watch this show that you realise just how thin and flavourless so much of what passes for comedy in this country really is. Taken individually, pretty much every joke here could appear – most likely in a much less funny form – on any number of the “quality” comedy shows we get in a year. Jokes about how boring and pointless Q&A is, how the ABC won’t even let them dress someone up as a Muslim cleric, over-the-top news graphics, pointing out how creepy Julie Bishop is when talking about her “friendship” with Kevin Rudd. Nothing too ground breaking there.
But Mad as Hell doesn’t leave it there. It doesn’t linger at the scene of the crime; instead it piles on the jokes, from Micallef’s face-pulling to the offbeat and occasionally unsettling personalities of his reporters and guests. It throws in some wordplay, then has a fashion show with Cardinals because why not? It’s the sheer density of the show above all else that stands out against the limp backdrop of so much Australian comedy. It’s the feel of a show where everyone involved is trying non-stop from start to finish to try and make you laugh.
If you saw the last series then you know what to expect, and nothing major has changed here. Good. Those idiots complaining that it was too much like Newstopia are idiots. Micallef is currently the funniest man on Australian television – or if not the funniest man personally, then a man who likes funny enough to surround himself with writers and performers who are so good at being funny themselves they lift him up to that position – and it’s extremely difficult to think of a better format for his style of comedy.
Plus, c’mon: it’s a smart show. Not smart in the way that Randling liked to think it was smart, all condescending and packed with smug gits doling out tidbits of utterly useless “information”: smart in that it knows the news is this country is one big half-arsed pantomine based more on “look over here!” style reporting than any desire to actually explain what’s going on. And it’s fine with that, because that is a lot funnier than a useful working media would be.
It’s not a show anyone would call savage, but there’s enough anger here to give it an edge rarely seen in recent years – and if you think we’re referring back fondly to Wil Anderson’s moronic poo-jokes about Liberal politicans, fuck off. It’s simply a show that will try anything to make people laugh, from silly voices to sharp digs at important figures, and it knows that letting the audience get too comfy about proceedings is a great way to make sure they don’t laugh. In short, the best comedy show in Australia is back: you should probably tune in.