The Houso Of The Rising Sun

Hey, remember how Paul Fenech was so annoyed SBS didn’t instantly greenlight a second series of Housos after the first that he went off and made a movie instead? And the movie was released into cinemas? Where people were expected to pay to see it? Guess the jokes on us: not only did the movie make money, now there’s a second series of Housos as well. Nice to see Fenech actually can make a joke work when he tries.

As for the second series, well, Ian Turpie’s still dead but otherwise everyone else is back. As is the brilliant dialogue. Take this sex scene that’s also the first scene in the show:

“Oi Daz?”

“Are you coming?”

“Fuck, as if! Look, oi need you to gimme something good this year right, none of them shit fuckin’ presents that you usually get me”

Cut away to the spray-painted “CONES MATE” on the wall of their bedroom.

So, you know, if hitting a midget bikie with a thong then stealing his bike sounds funny to you, good news! Well, not really good news, as we just ruined that joke for you. But don’t worry, there’s plenty more like it here. Well, there’s an attempt to make “thonging” a thing, so presumably that’ll stir up some media interest if anyone’s stupid enough to try it in the real world. Roll credits! Oh crap, they’re just the opening credits.

Considering the second series of Fenech’s Swift & Shift Couriers sat on a shelf for years – as mentioned by us here – the relative success of Housos must be good news for someone. Sure, it’s exactly the same kind of erratic shouty crap Fenech’s been pumping out since everyone with talent abandoned him after a couple of years of Fat Pizza, but at least it’s only offensive because it’s rubbish, not because it’s spreading some message of hate. There’s your quote for the back of the DVD right there. Housos: At Least It’s Not Fascist Propaganda.

And it’s not like there aren’t jokes here. Take this witty exchange:

“You know why we eat fast food?”


“Because fat fuckers like you ‘ave already gobbled up all the slow shit, so fuck off”

Or this classic line:

“Rootin’ in a park’s so fuckin’ romantic, makes me feel like I’m thirteen again”

Look, it’s not like we don’t get it: Fenech makes live action-cartoons full of crazy comic exaggerations, where energy is prized over subtlety, nothing’s funnier than smashing things up and a swear word is as good a punchline as any. It’s just that, to coin a phrase, they’re shit at it. Having a mentally retarded character throwing plastic army men at the bum crack of a guy passed out on a couch might be funny to someone, but cutting back to it four or five times sure isn’t.

Then you’ve got a narrator – what happened to Russell Gilbert anyway, he was the guy who took over from Turps in the movie – saying lines like this: “If you’ve ever had an alcohol blackout, the only person that would remember what happened is the Maori you were drinking with”. Buh? Our two leads go see a mate of theirs to find out what happened last night when they blacked out. Why not just say that? It’s not a joke and it’s hardly something that’ll have the viewers nodding their heads and saying “very true”. It’s just shit.

There’s perhaps five minutes worth of actual material here, padded out with a bunch of shouting and chase scenes. Maybe if you find Fenech throwing up two or three times an episode, a load of arse cleavage and a bunch of people being hit with thongs funny… nah, you’re still going to struggle getting through a whole episode. Eventually a story turns up as the Housos go to a snobby cafe, but there’s no clash-of-cultures going on here as the restaurant stuff only lasts a couple of minutes before we’re back to crazy useless Asian cab drivers and bolting from the cops as per usual.

Again, there’s a case to be made here that at least Fenech is making comedy about (and for?) someone aside from the usual inner-city and middle-class types that have turned Australian comedy into a humourless grind. But to put it in words even the Housos can understand, who gives a shit if it’s not fuckin’ funny?

The Housos are cartoon characters with nothing to say about reality and very little to say about anything else, which would be fine if endless references to stealing bourbon and having sex with the mentally handicapped were actual jokes. This show is fucked in the face.

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  • Jimbo says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Bogan Pride which followed Housos. I searched your archives and couldn’t find a review of Bogan Pride. Go on, give us a review. We’re dying to hear how much you loved it 🙂

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Just for you, here’s as close to a review as we did, from a forum back in 2008:

    “Well, okay, it’s crap, and you should really assume through the rest of my comments that while part of me is speaking rationally the other half is just screaming in a mix of fear and disgust from the “peek-a-boo public hair” swimsuit scene alone. But it’s not cynical crap, if you know what I mean. Rebel Wilson has made a lame musical knock-off of Kath & Kim only with actual fat people and a schoolyard battle between the hot girls and the christian nerds over some dumb stud who just got out of prison, but it’s clearly a show she’s done ’cause she thinks it’ll be fun and funny. Again, it’s not funny, it’s not fun, it’s poorly paced, every character is a stereotype and the jokes don’t work at all, but it still feels like a show someone made because they wanted to entertain an audience (in contrast to Summer Heights High, which mines some of the same territory and is in many ways “better” but feels a lot more like a creepy exercise in self-promotion for Lilley). So it’s hard to totally hate it even though it’s pretty bad.

    Rebel is the only “name” here (apart from Adam Zwar in a cameo as a teacher rooting one of the hot girls), and unless you’re a fan of hers (or of jokes about ‘mongs’, AKA “the mentally wrong” in which zombies get parts of themselves stuck in a car door and are used as slave labour to fix up a house) there’s no real reason why you’d tune in – even the musical numbers are very low quality and there’s only two in the episode I saw: one about “being cool at the public pool” and one about how great hanging out at the library is. But despite it being worse than Mark Loves Sharon, it’s heart is still in the right place and there’s no other agenda here apart from to try and make you laugh. Which doesn’t excuse the fact that it’s not really very good at all, and that Wilson’s career should have ended with Monster House like everyone else’s did.”

  • billy c says:

    Rebel has only ever done anything passable when other people have done the writing. Her only attempt at live work I can remember failed to sell tickets or win fans: