If there’s one thing the Australian media likes reporting on, it’s the Australian media. Just look at us: the last few weeks we’ve been so busy reporting scurrilous gossip and unfounded speculation we haven’t had time to actually review any comedy. So why start now?
A continuing source of tension at the ABC is the now infamous Putin sketch which got 7.30 and Leigh Sales into so much trouble last week. The irony is that 7.30’s executive producer, Sally Neighbour – not known for her sense of humour – recruited The Checkout’s Kirsten Drysdale to join 7.30 as the resident clown because she was under pressure from above to add some light touches.
Internal critics say 7.30 has become quite one-dimensional under her watch and the ratings have slumped. “Sally is so deadly intense, she took the direction literally,” a source said. “She flicked the switch to vaudeville in the most bizarrely ill-judged way.”
Thanks to the Guardian’s new media column for that bit of smirk-inducing gossip. We’ve made our views on this kind of “news satire” well known – the tl;dr version is that any comedy show that doesn’t put being funny first is never going to be funny at all – so it’s hardly surprising that actual news professionals have held similar views.
Not that they can do anything about it: when comedy clearly rates well but hiring writers to come up with it is beyond the budget, “news satire” is always going to be lurking around ready to fill the gap. Just look at The Chaser’s Media Circus: it’s clearly from the same people who made the far superior Hamster Wheel, but in trying to cut just a few corners – get guests to improv reactions to dumb news rather than sitting down and coming up with them themselves – the end result is, well, a bit below expectations.
And this is what always happens with news comedy: unless you’re willing to hire the regular comedy amount of writers to actually write proper gags about the news the same way you’d get writers to write jokes for a sitcom about relationships or social oh wait you already outsourced that with the Agony Guide to Life.