Vale Mad As Hell

It’s rare for an Australian comedy show to be “must watch” but that’s what Mad As Hell has been for the past 12 weeks, and part of what has made it compelling is that it’s a topical comedy show with real attitude. That’s “attitude” rather than “bias”, something it’s probably been accused of by idiots (judging from some of Micallef’s snarky gags) and something that’s increasingly rare in a television climate where everyone seems afraid to be seen to have an opinion because that might alienate someone.

Part of what made Charles Ramsey, hero of the Amanda Berry escape in Ohio, a worldwide internet legend this week is that he has attitude too. He talked about his experience and expressed his opinions in a frank, honest and amusing way – and he wasn’t afraid to address the racial politics of the situation. People loved him for this.

Last year Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech captured the internet’s imagination too. One of the reasons was that she said what half the population have felt for a long time but have never been able to express so well.

Mad As Hell has had a similar effect, although with a much smaller audience than these global internet phenomena. The sketch deconstructing the Liberal party’s headless chooks video beautifully ripped to shreds the video’s strained metaphorical conceit and its idiot creators, before ending with “Go tell it to Wil Anderson”. That last line was particularly cutting given the way in which the Gruen franchise has been more an ad for the ad makers than a fascinating deconstruction of advertising (or whatever they claim it is).

This and various other Micallef-led, ranty sketches throughout the series have said more about the Carbon Tax, Gonski and just about any other political issue than you could name than a month of mainstream news programmes. Sometimes you need a bit of attitude and opinion to tell it like it is. And as light relief there’s a giant green Octopus and characters with names like Vomitoria Catchment – now that’s entertainment!

As with the final episode of Get This, it’s a massive shame Mad As Hell won’t be around to de-construct the election. Their countdown clock suggested that was the plan, and in the absence of a more boring explanation we can perhaps legitimately suggest that someone at the ABC might not have wanted a comedy show with a satirical bent on air during the campaign.

The recent commissioning of Wednesday Night Fever was a bit of a surprise (perhaps to the Mad As Hell team too), but we’ll wait to see it before passing judgement. It’ll be hard for it to follow Mad As Hell though, which has been the best Australian sketch show since, well, probably The Micallef Program. Still, Mad As Hell will probably be back next year – and if Tony Abbott’s Prime Minister imagine the fun they’ll have!

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  • Evilcommiedictator says:

    Exactly. The mining tax both crippling and not taxing enough as an example of this shit that Mad as Hell pointed out. Hopefully it will be back for the election!

  • BIlly C says:

    Their NBN segment was great as well. It really was a brilliant show. I assumed the countdown clock was purely a joke about how far away the election is and the silliness of announcing it so far out. They would have known how many weeks they had when they were commissioned I’m sure, have a look at Shaun’s schedule over the last two years, he’d probably know what he was doing six to eight months out at present. Some of the sketches / mock interviews worked well and they did a good job breaking up the show, the team is very talented but I’d have to say that the bits that were just Micallef were the highlight for me.

  • Urinal Cake says:

    Comedy* is going to be fucking woeful for the rest of the year.


  • BIlly C says:

    Your attention to detail is appreciated. You could always go and see some gigs instead.

  • Urinal Cake says:

    Or just watch overseas shows

  • BIlly C says:

    Sure but you know you’ll miss out on seeing comedy without the filter, with a real sense of immediacy. Anything new you can recommend? I’m only watching Veep at the moment and awaiting for AD.

  • Urinal Cake says:

    I think watching Lee, Kitson, Law etc who seem so many leagues ahead of anybody here has ruined it for me.

    ‘Nathan For You’ is an enjoyable spoof on the reality-help genre but I haven’t caught up to other recent series.

  • BIlly C says:

    Thanks will check it out. I’ve started watching Up All Night. Not sure about it yet.
    I saw Kitson’s trial show which was very good for a trial but felt I’m a bit past listening to his melancholy. Which is not to suggest that was all there was to the show. He’s still one of the best in the game. I didn’t watch the second series of comedy vehicle, he grates on me now too much. The drawn out meta comedy doesn’t interest me anymore. Then again once Ross Noble moved into 300 plus seat venues I stopped going as it just wasn’t the same. Even the patchy live stuff from young comics, I find so much more entertaining than television. The immediacy is much better than stand-up DVDs and better than most television being screened here.

  • Urinal Cake says:

    I think the problem with Kitson is that his act has been in part co-opted by a lot of acts. Of course he still does it the best but because you can see the strings of others some of the magic has gone.

    Lee is my favourite comedian so I will defend most things he does. His persona has changed from SLCV to his newest stand-up show. However he is less deadpan and now he somewhat cloaks his meta conceits further. There are a few bits of ‘Carpet Remnant World’ on youtube to gauge for yourself.

    The thing is I’ve seen bits of Comedy Warehouse/ Raw Comedy 2013 and I think it would be a waste of a night out if I went to see them live. But perhaps there are some interesting comedians that aren’t on TV that you can suggest I see in Melbourne? Thanks.

  • Bean Is A Carrot says:

    Podcasts like I Love Green Guide Letters give us a pretty good idea of who’s newish and out there working the live scene, and the nice thing about them is that you don’t have to live in Melbourne or Sydney or somewhere with a decent live comedy scene to experience those acts. Same with TV comedy – the whole country can see it.

    TV Tonight reported today that Luke McGregor, who’s been brilliant on a number of podcasts, will be on Dirty Laundry Live – – I agree with David Knox, McGregor is definitely one to watch, and it’s great he’s made it to TV. He’ll most likely be the breakout talent on that show, as Hannah Gadsby was on In Gordon Street Tonight.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Oddly – or not – the promos for Adam Hills Tonight in no way feature Gadsby. Is she confirmed to be returning?

    *edit* seems so, only now she’s just a regular guest:

  • BIlly C says:

    Well there is always a bit of a break post festival. I would suggest looking at the line-ups at the local in St Kilda, or the Provincial in Fitzroy. There is also a night in Richmond that Wes Snelling is running at the Eurkea Hotel. Go on a night when there’s one person you’d like to see. I have a high tolerance for bad comedy, I don’t mind sitting through it so normal stand-up nights don’t bother me if they are patchy. Which they usually are. I agree you can hear a lot of great people on podcasts but hearing people do their own prepared material in a low stress environment for the performers is I think where you see some of the best comedy.

  • Urinal Cake says:

    Thanks for all the recommendations guys. Maybe I might be tempted to actually have a go myself.