Live and Snickering

Maybe we’re growing soft in our old age – or maybe we’re just pleased to hear that Shaun Micallef’s Stairway to Heaven has finally scored funding – but we really don’t have anything all that snarky to say about Fairfax’s current wave of comedy coverage. Yes, it’s almost entirely focused on stand-up (supporting the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, which starts this week) which puts us on shaky ground anyway, but the fact remains: for once a batch of comedy coverage seems fair enough to us.

Of course, the real question is how long this will remain the case, with rumours already reaching our ears that this year The Age is shifting all their Festival coverage “in-house”. Which if true means that the experienced freelance live reviewers you’ve grown to love or at the very least respect – plus Helen Razer – are out and the motoring writer guy who figured a couple of free tickets to Judith Lucy might be worth a laugh even though he’s never actually reviewed live comedy before and isn’t even sure that women can be funny is in. Oh goodie.

But while we’re waiting for a wave of ill-considered reviews, let’s take a look back at a weekend of halfway decent comedy coverage. There was this look at joke theft:

Joke theft is perhaps the greatest crime in the world of comedy. “It’s just wrong,” says fellow comic Nick Cody. “You’ve put all this thought and effort into a thing and for somebody to swipe it is just lazy. I don’t know how people do it. I’d feel terrible.”

“It’s just like working in an office and doing all the hard work only to have someone you’re sharing a cubicle with going up to the boss and going ‘I did all that,'” says Chandler. “They’re taking all the credit for your work.”

There’s an article about comedy influences that’s notable largely for the comedians who don’t want to name their influences. Also, everybody loves Sam Simmons:

One of the names that keeps recurring is Sam Simmons. “Simmons is a good example of the way in which your idea of an `influence’ changes as you develop your act,” Watson says. “In my earlier days, I was mostly intent on seeing people like myself, observational comics, ideally male ones with bad hair and a university degree, like me, and picking up their tricks, but the longer you go on, the more you gain from watching people who challenge and subvert your own ideas of comedy, going off in directions you couldn’t have anticipated.”

Celia Pacquola tells a similar story. “A lot of the time I really like stuff I couldn’t do, like sketch. For me, it’s usually the ones where I go, `I don’t know how you’re doing that.’ If I thought of it, I probably wouldn’t think it’s funny. A lot of stuff that Sam Simmons does, I never would have thought of it and, if I had, I would have gone `nah’, but it’s so funny.”

It’s nice to see Dave Taranto (of RRR’s The Cheese Shop fame) getting name checked here, though the real laugh is the article headline:

m21-cover-box head here

There’s an interesting look at comedy double acts here:

It’s been almost nine years since Lano and Woodley called it quits, but Lane is still seen by many as “missing” his other half. It’s both a measure of their success and, one suspects, a thorn in his side.

About the time of their final tour Lane was entertainingly blunt about the reasons for his split with Woodley after nearly 20 years. “I used to be a Frankophile because I loved everything Frank, but now I’m a Frankophobe,” he deadpanned. “He’s a dickhead in real life. So, sometimes, that gets a little bit tiresome.” Woodley, clearly amused by Lane’s explanation, offered his take by saying “we knew the cracks were forming when we’d get to an airport to book in and the person behind the counter would say, ‘Look, I’m sorry but we can’t sit you two together,’ and we’d both go, ‘That’s OK’.”

These days Lane is a little more philosophical about the split. “We each evolved during our partnership. He became smarter and I became stupider.”

With a quartet of duos singled out for extra attention here:

Dring says the appeal of working in a team lies both in supporting each other and in refining ideas through that collaborative tug-of-war. “There are compromises and sometimes it’s hard to find the time together, but comedy can be a bit lonely and demoralising by yourself: it’s nice to be able to support each other and have someone to bounce off.”

And finally, here’s David Dale talking about Garry McDonald and saying something extremely silly yet again (and no, we don’t mean the missing “of” in the first line either):

If you created a list the five greatest TV comedies ever made in Australia, Garry McDonald would have been in three of them. Or four of them if you insist on calling Offspring a comedy, even after they killed Patrick.

Yeah, Offspring is clearly a far superior comedy than The Games or Frontline or Kath & Kim (series one) or everything Shaun Micallef has done or a random episode of The Gillies Report (or even everything Chris Lilley has done), for sure. Way to make Ben Pobjie look like the good Fairfax TV critic.

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  • Billy C says:

    The interesting thing about the 3 Person Mikado is this line:
    ” Lane, on the other hand, is very new to the tongue-twisting world of comic opera. Collins gloats that when they began rehearsals in Sydney recently, Lane was on the edge of nervous tears.”

    Which completely ignores the fact that Lane and Collins appeared together in a production of the Mikado in Brisbane in 2008.

    Bit strange to pretend that didn’t happen.

  • Stuart says:

    Well, David Dale recently suggested Shaun was “drawing perilously close to [his] use-by date”, so I’m not sure he’s the best person to critique comedy.

  • David says:

    @billy c
    i was talking about when we began rehearsing mikado several years ago in brisbane for essgee productions. not the present production of the 3 mikados. ..although Col still has trouble from night to night with the language..
    david collins.