Let Loose Live

Ok, we’re just going to come right out and ask: do comedians make a shitload more money from live tours than they do from television? Because pretty much the only way we can figure out how this

THE serially selfconscious Bondi Hipsters are about to get up off their couch — to star in their first feature film.

Meanwhile, their action-minded 80s cousins, the Kiwi Assassins, are working on a stage musical.

– sounds like a good idea is if there’s a shitload of money involved. C’mon, is this the kind of thing anyone could say with a straight face:

“It felt like a funny idea. I think our style of comedy and the 80s style of music could provide a cocktail for something that will be really entertaining as a musical,’’ said Christiaan Van Vuuren, who is to write and direct both projects with brother Connor.

“There is a lot of fun theatricality to be had in that time period. And it fits very nicely with the action category story we were telling.”

You do realise when he says “fun theatricality” he means “80s clothing”, right? And that on stage – a medium notorious for its complete and utter inability to provide close-ups to show off subtle details such as 80s clothing – that’s going to mean jack shit? You do? Let’s move on.

The Van Vuuren brothers will develop the movie and the musical, as well as several other viral projects, with the help of a grant from Screen Australia, which Thursday awarded $3.2 million to 10 Australian production companies.

Other beneficiaries of the Enterprise Industry: Growth and Stories program include Robert Connolly (Paper Planes, The Turning) and Jamie Hilton (The Little Death).

“It means we can actually pay ourselves to write, pay fellow collaborators to work with us,’’ said Christiaan, who constitutes one half of the Bondi Hipsters alongside co-creator Nick Boshier.

So the ABC didn’t cough up any cash for Soul Mates then? And while a Bondi Hipsters movie sounds fair enough – well, as fair enough as the Kath & Kim movie, only that actually had a chance of overseas sales – those “other viral projects” sound a little iffy to us.

Sure, pretty much all levels of the arts in this country require government funding to survive, but when you get to the level of “viral projects” (which, going on The Bondi Hipsters’ past work, means YouTube clips) aren’t we talking about stuff that should sink or swim on its own? You make the viral projects to try and attract enough attention to get funding to make a more involved project – if you just plow the cash back into more viral projects, you’re crowding out the next generation of up-and-comers.

Then again, considering The Bondi Hipsters team features at least one guy from the Beached Az crew, crowding out the next generation of up-and-comers probably isn’t a problem.

(And don’t think we didn’t notice the producer behind The Little Death scoring some free government money there. To be fair, free government money was pretty much the only thing they weren’t complaining about when audiences were avoiding their “hilarious” sex comedy late last year. Damn, maybe Rebel Wilson was right when she told the world that Australia has a culture of rewarding mediocrity.)

But it’s the stage musical part of all this that we can’t quite get out heads around, if only because taking your much-loved characters out on tour is usually the kind of thing you do well after your career has peaked. Remember when Chris Lilley was dropping hints about taking his characters on tour? Oh wait, it was just last year.

A fan asked if he would consider ‘bringing Mr. G back and…performing Mr. G The Musical in front of an audience,’ Lilley said ‘definitely one day. And putting on the whole musical would be awesome.’

Maybe it would be awesome – back in 2009 when it would have seemed like he was using his fame to try something new. Now that he’s pissed away what little good will he once had with a string of half-arsed duds, any attempt at a live show would look exactly like what it was: a naked cash grab.

At least with the upcoming live show from Chaser members Andrew Hansen and Chris Taylor it sounds like they’re trying something different (and no, we don’t mean comedy). Their Melbourne International Comedy Festival show In Conversation With Lionel Corn gets the thumbs up from us for this quote alone:

Both Taylor and Hansen are not involved in The Chaser‘s current television project, The Checkout.

“We have no interest in consumer affairs or shows about consumer affairs. I wish them well with it but it gave us a perfect window to team up and do something a bit more silly while they are doing shows about the price of shampoo.”

Which is how live shows by established comedy performers are meant to work: you do them during a quiet patch in things when you want to try something new (see also: Shaun Micallef’s stage work).

As for taking the time out to hit the boards when your career is on the upswing after a successful (well, critically acclaimed) TV series and you’ve just landed a bunch of production dough to make a movie? All we can say is, there must be a whole lot of gold in them that hills.

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  • Billy C says:

    Yes you make almost nothing from an ABC2 show.

    The live work is 100% where the money is. That’s why you see this sort of thing and Adam Zwar popping up at rooms in Melbourne trying to learn how to do stand-up. However a stage musical? That’s expensive. No money in that unless it’s massive.

    A stand-up tour? Yes if you have a fan base and you’re popular. Some people are on tv a lot and can’t sell tickets. Some are on tv a lot and can’t shift anything.

    I’m not sure if Hanson and Taylor will sell. 400 seats x 12. Without an established producer at the end of the festival. Not sure. The Chaser’s live shows were not great. They might have burned off the live crowd. We’ll see.

  • simbo says:

    Hanson and Taylor have been a rather bog-average act live for the last five years or so, however, the importnat thing is they’ve never been bog-average in Melbourne, only in Sydney – so therefore they should still have a little bit of novelty factor.

    Also, is it just me, or is “The Checkout” the best political satire the Chaser has done for years? As soon as it becomes less about the identity-puppets in parliament and becomes about how people’s lives are actually effected by capitalism in it’s roughest form, it becomes much more interesting…