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!