Hey, remember this?
Don’t worry if you don’t recall that classic segment from 2013’s This Week Live, as Tom Gleeson kindly brought it back on this week’s episode of The Weekly rebranded as “Hard Chat”. Yep, This Week Live might have been axed due to low ratings and general disinterest, but that doesn’t mean its segments can’t live on and hit the same comedic heights that made it so successful the first time.
Actually, the best way to watch this week’s episode is backwards, so first you get Gleeson recycling his 2013 interview antics and then eventually you get to Pickering’s mock outrage at Bill Shorten saying a bunch of school kids are “making more content than some TV stations”. Yeah, way off beam there, Bill.
What else is there to say? The bit on halal certification was actually pretty good for a segment from Hungry Beast or The Feed, we didn’t spot any coverage of Rebel Wilson’s age so once again all the really big stories were skipped over, and everything else… wait, was there anything else? Oh yeah, Pickering’s big interview was ok. So a 50% strike rate with talking to guests there.
We probably shouldn’t grumble too much about the halal certification story, considering it was – for a segment on The Weekly – actually a decent mix of information and comedy. But when you’re doing an “educational” comedy bit, it seems fair to ask: who exactly are you trying to educate?
On The Checkout, it’s obvious: you tune in for consumer advice, there’s a bit of comedy in there somewhere. On Mad as Hell, there’s no education past the occasional brief bit to set up the context for a news joke. But giving a quarter of your show over to explaining that the nutjobs complaining against halal certification are nutjobs? The people who care either way have already made up their minds and the people who don’t are wondering where the laughs are.
Complaining about halal certification is stupid. We think so, The Weekly thinks so. So why spend eight minutes on a segment educating us on a topic we agree with? Well, clearly some people don’t think it’s stupid and maybe they were watching – perhaps The Weekly thinks they can change peoples minds? Oh wait, this is a show that started with five minutes of jokes about how scary some bikies look. A show that keeps running “Inside the Insiders”. A show that made and put to air a supercut of newsreaders talking about the size of hail.
We’re what, a full quarter of the way through the series and the guys at The Weekly still don’t seem to get how this whole “news satire” thing works. Probably because the thing that makes news satire work – having a firm point of view and using it to hammer at news stories – is the thing the ABC desperately wants to avoid with a federal Liberal government. Explaining a joke kills a joke: when you’re making fun of the issues, you have to be able to assume your audience gets where you’re coming from.
But the ABC is all about balance and making sure they don’t come off as leaning too heavily to one side or the other. So presumably, that means when The Weekly wants to go hard on a right-wing issue, they really have to make sure they back it up by explaining their case. Which kills whatever jokes they were trying to make.
Depressing stuff. Good thing all their non-political comedy is lame too, hey?