Take This Quirk And Shove It

Press release time!



After years of researching, writing and reporting for acclaimed ABC programs such as The Checkout, Hungry Beast, Gruen Transfer and The Hamster Wheel, the extraordinarily talented Kirsten Drysdale joins 7.30 tonight.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be working at 7.30,” Kirsten said.

“It’s my dream job, I hope I can meet the program’s high journalistic standards and only resort to silly costumes in extreme circumstances.”

Kirsten is renowned for her quirky take on serious subjects.

And tonight she turns her unique talents to the much anticipated “shirt-fronting” prize-fight between Prime Minister, Tony Abbott and Russian President, Vladimir Putin, when the pair is expected to meet today on the sidelines at the APEC summit in Beijing.

The build up has promised so much – but will the showdown match the hype?

Find out tonight on ABC at 7.30.

And here we were concerned the ABC would run low on shitty news jokes after axing The Roast.

Obviously we disapprove, because we disapprove of pretty much everything. Well, not of Drysdale herself – she’s been good in all the shows listed in the press release (was she on-air on Gruen?), and if this was a straight news appointment we’d be fine with it. It’s this that’s set off the warning claxons in the Tumbleweeds bunker:

Kirsten is renowned for her quirky take on serious subjects


Mostly what we disapprove of here is this numbnuts idea that adding comedy to news somehow isn’t just a massive waste of everyone’s time. Does anyone seriously think the funny stuff in Mad as Hell is the news coverage? Looked at another way, has there ever been a “comedy news program” which has been halfway as informative as the actual news?

Wacky news coverage where the news comes first – where they have to try and make fun of the big stories of the day rather than having leeway to cherry-pick the stories that can be made the most fun of – almost always sucks arse because information and comedy are two completely different things. That old line “it’s funny because it’s true” is an old line because a big part of comedy is comedy of recognition – people get the joke because it’s about a situation they’re familiar with.

But to make fun of news (especially when the news is timely and being presented to an audience for the first time) you first have to inform the audience as to what’s going on. You know how jokes are shit when someone explains them to you afterwards? Imagine how shit a joke is when someone has to explain it to you before they can even tell it.

And yet this kind of thing is bound to continue in the Australian media, as the television audience dwindles and more and more shows are expected to be all things to all viewers. At least in the old days the funny stuff – John Clarke & Bryan Dawe take a bow – was the capper at the end of the week: after having watched four or five nights worth of news about the current political situation, they’d come along and put some spin on the stuff you now knew.

Yes, you needed to be informed to get the joke, but it was also a stand-alone segment (as we’ve since seen after 7.30 gave it the heave ho). If you missed it you still had a dose of perfectly good straight news from the rest of the show, and if you just tuned in to see them presumably you were already informed about the weeks goings-on from elsewhere.

But forget all that, because now news is all about a “quirky take on serious subjects”. And who knows? Maybe combining quirk with news will bring in fans of both quirk and news, rather than pissing off news fans because they take news seriously while also setting fans of quirk (in this equation that’s us) to teeth-grinding because the quirk on offer is deliberately feeble and half-hearted in an attempt to not completely piss off the news fans.

Long story short, mixing comedy with anything only gives you watered down comedy; don’t we already have enough of that on our screens?

*edit* And having now seen the segment in question… well, it’s not exactly the best environment for comedy when after your segment the host says “there is a serious side to this story though”.

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  • Andrew says:

    Combining quirk with news seems to work OK with “The Feed”… but “7.30” is completely different. Not a good mix for that show at all.

    Wondering too if this is some sort of prelude to the alleged (but denied) Friday night chat show tipped to replace the state-based 7.30?

    But seriously what’s next… Dave Hughes doing vox pops on Four Corners?

  • yipiddyriceboy says:

    I don’t know what it is right now but a lot of australians want to make news satire. I’ve seen new ‘satire news’ blogs popping up every week. The frustrating thing is, I don’t think either the creators and audience can recognise the difference between good news satire and something that sounds like news satire. The central joke formation is to take something that isn’t true, and to report it as true. It’s no more sophisticated than tricking a child into thinking you pulled your thumb off—and at least that sophisticated trick takes dexterity.

    An example of what I mean is all over the Australian reddit thing all the time. Here’s a few that are on there now:
    “A news parody “Australian pirate downloads car”
    “Man Dehydrates After Discovering Water Is Halal Certified [Satire]”

    To me, this sort of thing isn’t funny. It’s just sort of arbitrary mapping of concepts onto other concepts, the leads to obvious connections like ‘der that’s like the ad that say you wouldn’t steal car.’ What’s the inherent value in that? I remember listening to the roast podcast at one point and someone was saying there’s no real difference between their show and Stewart and Colbert apart from the fact their shows have studio audiences. I mean if the audience can’t tell the difference between, and even the creatives can’t tell the difference, it is no wonder there’s barely any humour of any material substance.

    When you watch shows like Clarke and Dawe, it is so clear how carefully crafted it is, and how ruthless they would be in cutting and improving material until it works. How sad that the majority of Australian news satire is quite happy to rely on obvious, half baked and uncritical ideas. The latter being the easy option I’d suspect Drysdale will embrace it to full effect. Besides, if the audience can’t tell the difference between meaningless news satire and highly crafted genius, what is the point? As long as the satire espouses the political valence of the audience the jokes will become rather easy to write. There won’t be any reason to lead people down a path and surprise them with wit (which Clarke and Dawe do). Instead it’ll be more saying stuff that was incorrect from the very beginning and emphasising that this was a surprise.

    Did you hear Tony Abbott’s thumb disappeared? Just kidding, but that would be a pretty shocking surprise if it were factually true wouldn’t it!
    Have you seen about this? Tony Abbott’s decided to wear his swimmers to parliament. Not true, but it’s funny to think about, isn’t it?
    I’m sure Tony Abbott’s family LOVES halal food almost as much as they love free scholarships! (There’s no connection between those, but it’s a surprising comparison in that nobody would think to combine those two concepts) Apparently Tony Abbott’s daughter is going to receive a halal scholarship? Talk about cognitive dissonance! The last time that happened I downloaded a car ha-ha.

  • EvilCommieDictator says:

    Looked at another way, has there ever been a “comedy news program” which has been halfway as informative as the actual news?

    I’m thinking Last Week tonight with John Oliver to be honest….

  • Urinal Cake says:

    Yes I’d agree with that. But Oliver tends to put a spotlight on issues that aren’t covered very much or at all by anyone else -atleast from an Australian perspective.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    But that’s the kind of show that can pick and choose what news they want to cover for maximum comedy – with the resources to really explore an issue. And bring issues to light that are largely overlooked by the mainstream media.

    We’d fall off our chair if anyone in Australia put together a news satire show that actually investigated news stories rather than cracked wise over file footage.

  • Pete Hill says:

    The problem is, from what I’ve heard, an awful lot of younger folk in the States are using the likes of Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver etc as a substitute for actually watching or reading news & current affairs. Don’t get me wrong, I think those men are all very funny and very clever and they make some satirical points that aim true and sometimes cut deep. But at the end of the day, they are NOT journalists, nor do they pretend to be. They are comedians and satirists, producing topical comedy that aims to induce laughs, not educate the viewers on the important events of the day. We can’t make all news morph into comedy/satire, the same reason why not all doctors go around doing Patch Adams routines in front of their patients- its okay some of the time, but not appropriate for all occasions. Its tough enough being a serious journalist nowadays as it is, as print media cuts staff to the bone, making each journo do the work of five in half the time and with more media than ever under the thumb of big business and commerical interests. Turning more news programs into light entertainment will dumb the profession down even more. It wouldn’t be so bad if we had more geniune satire but a lot of it will be lazy, light-weight fluff- making jokes out of file footage, playing pop songs over montages of the week’s news-clips etc. As I’ve said before on this blog, proper satire is beyond the capacity for a lot of so-called comedians as it (A) takes a lot of hard work and (B) can make you have enemies. Its far easier and safer career-wise to become just another media celeb.