Well, Now We Know Why The Roast Got The Chop

From the ABC’s press release trumpeting their 2015 line-up:

Comedian CHARLIE PICKERING returns to ABC to present a news comedy show that promises to be opinionated and outspoken

Well, at least they didn’t say “funny”. According to websites much closer to actual news sites than ours:

Humorist and self-avowed political junkie Charlie Pickering will host 20 episodes of a news comedy show.

And that’s where the 2015 budget for The Roast went. We wouldn’t have thought it was possible to do worse than The Roast, but then 7.30 did their bit for dumbing down the news media of this country last night and now all bets are off. Who knew Australia’s news was so hilarious? It mostly seems to waver between car crashes, outbursts of racism and politicians trying to distract us from the fact that they and their business cronies have decided Australia is a place that grows shit in the ground or digs shit out of the ground and everything else can go to hell. Laugh? We barely know where to begin.

Ah bugger it, here’s the whole spiel from the press release:

A decade and a half after he began his broadcast career at Triple J, Charlie Pickering, political junkie, former lawyer, elegant gentleman and seriously funny stand-up comedian, is back where he belongs at the ABC. In 2015 he will premiere a news comedy show, a tonight show, a chat show and a panel show all in one. Sharing the set with guests and fellow comedians, Charlie will get back to his comedy roots calling bullshit on newsmakers, special interests, politicians and other charlatans. Hilariously outspoken, it will shamelessly turn the hypocrisies and idiocies of the world into the least cheap laughs the Australian taxpayer can afford.

Feel free to pick holes in it yourselves, we’re not in the mood.

Of course, the ABC has a bunch more stuff lined up for 2015, and much of the hilarity in the Fairfax coverage is their “but where are these shows, hmmmm?” tone, which suggests they plan to spend a large chunk of 2015 asking the bleeding obvious. To wit:

Notable in their absence from the extensive list were series including Upper Middle Bogan, Kitchen Cabinet, anything from The Chaser team, the ground-breaking series Black Comedy, and more.

Let’s answer this for you: Kitchen Cabinet is an idea that’s both run its course and is too small to hold the break-out star that is Annabel Crabb; The Chaser have seemed increasingly disinterested in actually putting on a television show this year and presumably the ABC have noticed (plus they’re moving into behind-the-scenes production)(and their shows are often announced later on, as they tend to appear towards the end of the following year), Black Comedy was a one-off experiment that was on ABC2 (*correction: it’s still airing on ABC1) and so will struggle like crazy to get a second series like everything else there – apart from Please Like Me s3, which has already been bought and paid for by Pivot in the US so of course it’s coming back – and as for Upper Middle Bogan, may we direct your attention here:

Also, scurrilous gossip time: a rumour currently doing the rounds of at least one capital city’s comedy scene is that the aforementioned new Head of Comedy flew the producing team behind one of those three shows to Sydney to inform them that he was not only not a fan of their series, but that he is so big a not-fan of them and their work that under no circumstance will there be a third season of their series – and this before the second has even gone to air.
But obviously Fairfax already know all this, otherwise why would they have mentioned those shows and not, say, It’s a Date or The Moody’s or any of the various Agony series, none of which seem to have rated a mention as yet.

And in more good news, despite the aforementioned scurrilous gossip Gristmill do have a comedy series lined up for 2015 – only it’s aimed at kids:

LITTLE LUNCH – a comedy about what happens in the primary school playground at snack time

The other big news so far is that Shaun Micallef’s doing a sitcom:

Shaun Micallef stars as our third longest-serving prime minister in THE EX-PM – a narrative comedy that fixes its beady eye on the world of grounded high-flyers struggling to stay relevant

And from the press release thingy:

As our third longest-serving prime minister, Andrew Dugdale (Shaun Micallef) was a man who mattered. He dined with presidents and kings, co-hosted world summits and changed the lives of millions of his fellow Australians. But since his publicly-mandated retirement, this not-so-elder statesman has far too much time on his hands and no one to waste it on. What’s a former Man of the People’ to do? This narrative comedy series fixes its beady eye on the world of grounded high-flyers and benched heavy-hitters. How do they make sure their elephant stamp on history remains indelible? What do they do when someone goes through their cupboards and finds all those skeletons? And does anybody want anything from the shops? A tale of redemption somewhere between House of Cards and One Foot in the Grave. THE EX-PM is created, written by and stars Shaun Micallef.

Mad as Hell is also going to be back, but probably just for the one series – got to leave room for Pickering’s new show, after all. Gruen (in some form or another) will also be returning, as will Utopia.

New ABC1 series include Judith Lucy is All Woman (“It’s a timely exploration of where women are at in modern Australia – and what that means for men – told from the unique perspective of someone who’s been a woman for most of her life.”) and Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane (it’s a six part sitcom), while on ABC2 we’ll be getting (finally – these have been a while coming) 8MMM Aboriginal Radio, a comedy set inside an Alice Springs community station and Maximum Choppage, a comedy series written by and starring Lawrence Leung.

Also of interest to us and hopefully you is the three part doco Stop Laughing, This is Serious:

In the mid 1980s Australian comedy was booming. Emerging from the margins of theatre, circus, vaudeville, cabaret and pubs, our comedy scene exploded. This series tracks the comedy revolution in this country and explores the way it has intersected with Australian culture, politics and identity through stand-up, sketch, panel shows, sitcom, musical and variety. Featuring some of our leading comedians and drawing on an extensive television archive, this series explores the maturation of Australian comedy, unpicking our cultural cringe, poking fun at our national identity, confronting hard truths and uncovering our taboos with our greatest weapon – our ability to laugh at ourselves. Stars Barry Humphries, Paul Hogan, Judith Lucy, Andrew Denton, John Clarke, Tim Minchin, Noeline Brown, Denise Scott, Kevin Kropinyeri, Jane Turner, Mick Molloy, Wendy Harmer, Julia Zemiro, Chris Taylor, John Safran, Nazeem Hussain, Dave Hughes, Sean Choolburra and Shaun Micallef.

Is it just us, or is that line-up surprisingly light on figures from the D-Gen / Late Show / Comedy Company / Fast Forward / Big Gig? You know, the pointy end of all this 80s comedy hoo-ha? Plus there’s a few too many fresh young faces there to explain to the kids why this comedy stuff used to be important for our liking: just show the Fast Forward clip of Steve Vizard corpsing while trying to say “fukirri rug” and they’ll get the point a lot quicker.

Still, they did also manage to say “drawing on an extensive television archive”, so fingers crossed it’ll be heavy on the classic clips and light on the “our greatest weapon – our ability to laugh at ourselves” malarkey. When was the last time a comedy show even tried to make us laugh at anything even remotely taboo? Good luck even pointing out that any non-flagpole-related use of the Australian flag has largely been co-opted by racists or that our refugee policy is blatantly built around the government running concentration camps, let alone making jokes about that stuff.

Guess that’s what they hired Charlie Pickering for.

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  • Billy C says:

    Black Comedy is on ABC1. -They almost never recommission before something has finished airing. Also Please Like Me moving to ABC1 !

    Also it infuriates me when Pickering always puts in his bios that he’s a former lawyer. He did a summer clarkship while a student. Was offered articles, deferred them for a year and then quit. He’s never set foot in a law firm as an article clerk and was certainly never a lawyer. Where on earth was he supposed to get time between graduating and starting at Triple J to practice? I don’t think he’ll do well with the ABC audience but we’ll see how that goes. His stand up has always been devoid of soul but passable.

  • Andore Jr. says:

    Steve Vizard – in blackface makeup – corpsing – donning an Indian accent – with a similarly outfitted Peter Moon.

    “The kids” would take to Twitter to ‘have you shut down in the name of social justice’ before the VCR could even correct the tracking head.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    That’s the problem with looking back at comedy – unless you actually do a decent job of putting it all in context (which, we’re going to guess, this isn’t going to do past a quick montage of political clips and wacky 80s fashions), you’re either going to offend people or have a show that doesn’t have too much that’s all that funny.

    Personally, we’re of a mind that “the kids” are smart enough to realise that 25 years ago was a different time and that the firm tradition of 80s sketches about shonky ads had its excesses like everything else.

  • 13 schoolyards says:

    Thanks for the correction re: Black Comedy. And Please Like Me s1 aired on ABC1 at some stage, so it’s not that ground-breaking – though it does suggest that ABC might be scaling back their new comedy on ABC1 in 2015 and filling the gap with ten episodes of PLM.

    Pickering doesn’t seem to be talking up the fact he was dumped from Triple J all that much either. But he’s probably smarmy enough to win over the Wil Anderson / Andrew Denton fans – the ABC has a long history of embracing the smug and dismissive.

  • Andrew says:

    I just hope Dirty Laundry Live gets a comeback but I don’t think it’s been mentioned anywhere?

    Couldn’t be less interested in PLM s3. And Charlie Pickering was smug enough on The Project I don’t think I could cope with a whole show of just him.

    Be interesting to see how they go with s2 of Utopia. Not sure there is enough material for another series but I probably said that after s1 of Frontline as well.

  • Urinal Cake says:

    Pickering is smart enough not to compete with Micallef and Co so hopefully he goes a more John Oliver route. Otherwise ho hum.

  • Shane says:

    Caught a Lawrence Mooney gig the other night, and he said that it’d be back in 2015, but on ABC1