The reality of the situation

Take a look at the cast of Celebrity Splash, alongside the usual reality TV role-call of presenters, actors, sportspeople and Brynne Edelsten are four figures from the world of comedy:

  • Paul Fenech – creator, writer, director, producer and star of Pizza, Housos and Swift and Shift Couriers
  • Adam Richard – stand-up, radio personality, and co-creator and star of Outland
  • Josh Thomas – stand-up, star of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation, and co-writer and star of Please Like Me
  • Denise Drysdale – veteran comic performer whose best known comedy work was on The Ernie Sigley Show and Hey Hey it’s Saturday

Okay, you could dispute whether some of this quartet are strictly speaking “comedians”, but we’ll move on to the main point of this post anyway: should comedians do reality TV?

Isn’t one of the things about comedy that it’s supposed to be above this kind of crap? Shouldn’t comedy be taking the piss out of a show whose intelligence-insulting premise is “amateur attempts an armstand back double-somersault with one and a half twists in the free position, amateur actually does a belly whacker”.

To be fair to Paul Fenech and Denise Drysdale they’re actually quite good physical comedians, so they’ll be quite good at giving the audience a bit of a laugh, which is presumably what they’re on the show to do. Adam Richard, being someone we assume isn’t a “natural sportsman”, should also look suitably amusing as he plunges into the pool. It’s Josh Thomas that’s the worry. That awkwardness schtick of his should be hilarious in this context, but as Thomas seems to disappoint in everything else he does we doubt he could even pull off a half-decent bomb. He’d probably be too embarrassed to even attempt a bomb, or think it would be hilarious to pretend to be too embarrassed to attempt a bomb, or whatever the hell his comedy thought process is…apart from one that doesn’t result in something funny.

Hang on, have we just spent a paragraph analysing the level and style of hilarity these people will bring to Celebrity Splash? Aren’t we supposed to be pointing out that comedians shouldn’t lower themselves to appear in shows like Celebrity Splash? And that the natural place of the comedian with regard to Celebrity Splash is to, say, sit behind the Mad As Hell desk and point out why everything about it is RUINING THE WORLD WE LIVE IN in a very funny way?

As potentially amusing as Fenech, Richard, Thomas and Drysdale might be amongst the sportsperson/actor/model-turned-whatevers who’ll be taking the whole thing a little too seriously (because this could totally be their breakout show), we’d much rather see comedians writing and performing comedy. You know, being amusing in a way that has something to say beyond “look at my incompetence at a sport”.

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  • BIlly C says:

    Was Thomas ever making any interesting comment on society in any way? It’s largely naval gazing with him. He only has a year at most till he loses his hair so he may as well make the coin while he can. I think it’s funny how he’s paying out the show on twitter even though he’s on it. I think he knows he shouldn’t have done it buy just couldn’t say no to the money.

  • Jimbo says:

    When Josh Thomas gets onto the diving board he will look awkward for several minutes, then do nothing, just like he did in Please Like Me. I hope Josh has his turn before Adam Richard, because I don’t think there’s going to be much water left in the pool after Adam lands in it (how’s that for a cheap shot!).

    Is there some sort of conspiracy to have Josh on every single fracking thing on TV? Everywhere I look he’s there.

  • Evilcommiedictator says:

    Funnily enough Fenech doesn’t appear on the promos…aw shit, i’ve been watching commercial tv again ffs

  • Jimbo says:

    I hope they show Josh being injured. That would be the highlight of my TV viewing year. A few seconds of injury (preferably of the flesh-tearing or bone-snapping kind) would make up for Please Like Me. In fact, Josh could desist with sitcom writing, and become a professional injury artist (that sort of stuff would get him off those shitty digital channels and into the mainstream). Hey, that could be the name of a great new reality TV show – Celebrity Hemorrhage. Just thinking out loud…

  • Urinal Cake says:

    According to someone on the Internet:
    “He confirmed they are making season 2 and then I told him I thought his show was amazing (which it is).”

    I don’t wish ill on Thomas I just wish he’d stick to stand-up so people could avoid him.

  • Makemelaughdammit says:

    I found myself turning over to this despite all intentions otherwise and honestly it wasn’t quite the car-wreck it could have been. There was a peculiar honesty to the show. Fenech and ex-Gladiator were upfront that if the audience wanted to see them belly-flop and bleed then that’s what they were going to do. Though he didn’t perform I expect the same from veteran Adam Richard.
    Should there be other venues for their talent? Surely, but this is what we have and it was interesting to watch the grim bonhomie of the dancing monkeys. But probably not enough to watch it again.

    Thomas was awkward, stammered and it was difficult to tell if he intended to fail and get it over with or not.

  • James says:

    In the cold light of the day after – he came out of the whole thing quite well I thought. Will have earned him a lot of new fans and I doubt lost him many old ones. His churlish attitude was quite charming. Lord help me – this year I’ve become a Josh Thomas fan.

  • BIlly C says:

    I suspect the average person will probably agree with you. However Josh has always been a bit lucky, got picked up for talking bout your generation because of his age in an industry where very young performers usually get ignored for years. Got a government grant to develop his tv show. Got bumped from the main station but got critically kind reviews for please like me. If it had of been on ABC1 it would have been ratings failure stories. Came out in a time when nobody cared.
    Sure he might get a second series on a minor digital station but doing this sort of thing turns him into someone who is ‘famous’ not as a by product of being a comedian. Just because he is recognised. He’s like the chick in the bikini who didn’t dive. He is so desperate for money or attention that he’ll literally jump into water in his pants to get on tv. Adam Richards or Fenech are larger than live characters who are crass and attention seeking. Doing this suits there act. But now that Thomas is a joke, how can you laugh at the jokes he makes?

  • Jimbo says:

    I wish people would stop justifying the existence of TV shows because they get good reviews. ALL TV comedy in this country AUTOMATICALLY gets good reviews, regardless of how good or bad it is. It’s some sort of unwritten media law where all Australian movies and TV shows get drenched in a massive love gush. It doesn’t help objectivity that everyone in the media in this country knows everyone else (or went to school with them, or shagged them, etc).

    If you read between the lines of most of those reviews, you get the real review, which is often a case of being damned with faint praise. Notice how the same euphemisms creep into most reviews? Words like “quirky”, “low key”, “endearing”, etc.

  • Billy c says:

    You are correct but often you at least get mixed. Liked with Save Your Legs. I think Any questions for Ben got pretty exclusively bad reviews though.

  • Urinal Cake says:

    Well there’s probably a correlation between positive reviews and poor ratings\box office for Australian ‘comedy’. The only thing it seems useful for is when the next vehicle\project comes along it can be used in promos as, ‘**** of critically acclaimed **** ‘.

    Any way Thomas got eliminated so it’s over. I look forward to see him appear on ‘Celebrity Big Brother’.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Television reviews for Australian programs are where film reviews for Australian films were 15 years ago (or still are if you watch The Movie Show). Fifteen years ago anything Australian automatically got a positive review to “support the local industry”. Then they figured out that a): sending people off to see shit resulted in them not wanting to go see any Australian films at all, b): many of the old “luvvie” reviewers were phased out in favour of people who liked film in general, rather than just their mates in the Australian industry, and c): movies are increasingly run out of Hollywood, so local film reviewers / entertainment writers just don’t get as close and friendly to the publicists as they do in television.

    Crap Australian films these days actually get reviews saying they’re crap, whereas television still overwhelmingly gets positive reviews no matter what the show’s actual quality.

  • Jimbo says:

    That gumby Jim Schembri gave Any Quesions for Ben a glowing review. So did David and Margaret…

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    See my comment about The Movie Show…

  • Pete Hill says:

    “…Crap Australian films these days actually get reviews saying they’re crap, whereas television still overwhelmingly gets positive reviews no matter what the show’s actual quality.”

    Not all Australian TV shows get a free ride from the critics. It’s just that certain mediocre and bland ones get a suspiciously large amount of praise and promotion whilst some interesting & good shows either get ignored or get the a*@#* kicked out of them.
    Remember back to 2011- Andrew Murfett of the Melbourne Age was almost the only TV reviewer working for a major paper to say anything good about Tony Martin’s The Joy of Sets. Compare that to Melinda Houston in the Sunday Age and Deborah Grunfeld in WHO magazine who both put the show in their ‘worst of-‘ lists for the year.
    The first series of the Micallef Program (1998) was, to quote Micallef himself in the dvd commentary, ‘shat on from a great height’ by TV critics. Ditto the short-lived ‘Welcher & Welcher’. And of course the Late Show, for the first half of its first season (1992) received terrible reviews. Over ten episodes had been aired before some-one in the media, namely Phillip Adams in his TV column in the Weekend Australian, actually said something good about the series, which, as Tony Martin remarked, ‘turned the tide’.
    And putting comedy aside, there have been a number of drama series in the past few years that have copped bad reviews and deservedly so in most cases. Cops LAC, Tricky Business and Tangle spring to mind, here.
    But I can see your point, there is a bizarre in-consistency and hap-hazardness to which shows garner good reviews and which ones don’t. There’s no denying that some TV columnists suffered from grease-laden palms. Nothing else could explain a certain Melbourne paper’s reviewer’s relentless praise for the first series of Ch-9’s The Block which was little more than an extended commercial for Mitre-10.