We were going to write an epic post this week, examining the malaise that currently seems to be infecting Australian (television) comedy. But then we realised we just couldn’t be arsed. And who do we blame for our lacklustre efforts? Why, Australian (television) comedy, of course. Because right here and now, in the middle of 2015, it’s a bit shit.
For once we’re not talking specifically about the quality of material being served up, though that’s pretty shit too. No, our current problem is with the seemingly endless run of firmly average shows currently sucking the life out of the comedy scene. Remember all those times we said television comedy shows need time to settle in and find their feet? Well, now we’re facing the opposite problem: too many shows that have settled in for the long haul despite having bugger all reason to keep turning up on our screens week in week out.
Take The Weekly – we’re not even half way through the run and already it’s basically dead to us. Not because it’s a terrible show (while the glib answer here would be “it is” because, uh, it is, a terrible show would at least be worth watching in a car crash fashion), but because week in week out it’s the same show. The same not all that good, never particularly memorable, Tom Gleeson only really can do one thing can’t he, show.
And that would be fine if it was the backbone of a decent night of varied comedy – Spicks & Specks ran for seven or eight years non-stop, and that was before ABC2 started running repeats three times a night. But currently – and for the foreseeable future – The Weekly is all we’ve got. The Agony of Agony wasn’t a comedy; Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery isn’t about talking to comedians; Adam Hills: The Last Leg is a UK import; Utopia is a repeat. Whoo-hoo.
Faced with a shit line-up like that, it’s hard not to think the reason why we’ve been getting a burst of publicity about Shaun Micallef’s upcoming sitcom is because it’s the only new comedy the ABC has planned between now and the end of the year. Let’s not forget, both Gruen and The Chaser’s Media Circus are coming back before the end of the year, and they’re both as tired as fuck; repeats of Mother & Son would seem more fresh and lively.
The view’s hardly better elsewhere. Open Slather still has close to four months left to run, and everyone’s already stopped caring about it. Dirty Laundry Live and Have You Been Paying Attention? are both good shows, but there’s zero surprises there these days. And what else have we got? Even Hamish & Andy have given up on television this year.
Again, this would be just fine and dandy if somewhere – anywhere – we could see something that qualified as exciting. You know the way Australian television drama is constantly churning out short-run, high quality efforts based largely around being “event television”? Why can’t comedy do that? It’s not like there’s any shortage of experienced talent out there (note: we didn’t say “funny”), and paring even a marginally well known name with an interesting-sounding project would be enough to generate some interest – it worked for Peter Helliar and It’s a Date, didn’t it?
For comedy to be a vital part of the Australian television landscape, it needs to exist like everything else: on two levels. Drama, news programs, sport, reality shows – they all have a combination of steady regular efforts (your nightly news, your evening renovation, your soap opera, your Footy Show) and special events designed to get the audience excited (your big breaking stories, your final show-down, your flashy mini-series, your Grand Final). And all we’re getting from comedy at the moment is the safe, bland, predictable fare.
When comedy stops being exciting, people stop talking about it. Sure, shitty websites are still running clips from The Weekly claiming Charlie Pickering “nailed it”, but in the real world? Or even just any place where human beings gather to discuss things face-to-face? No-one cares. And pretty soon, unless someone out there comes up with a show, or a sketch, or a performance, or even just a single damn joke that gets people talking about comedy, the only thing anyone will be nailing in Australian comedy will be the lid shut on the coffin they’re burying it in.
*edit* Holy crap we totally forgot about the upcoming fifteen endless weeks of this sack of shit. Kill us now.
‘Sure, shitty websites are still running clips from The Weekly claiming Charlie Pickering “nailed it”…’
What in the name god is ‘it’ in that sentence?!
If it’s anything other than ‘Smug Smirk #34’ then I officially apply for divorce from Australia’s viewing public.
Are there seriously websites doing this? Are we that fucking starved for satire that we don’t recognise what it even is anymore?
Wait. There’s ‘Please Like Me’ to look forward to isn’t there?
I think “nailed it” Charlie Pickering stuff is just out of desperation, trying to convince themselves that it’s on the same level as John Oliver / Jon Stewart, even though deep down in their heart of hearts……..they know the truth………
AWW YEAH MOTHER AND SON REPEATS.
Look, lat month, a certain airline was running a publicity campaign about a certain European bodybuilder and his wildly successful movie career.
And I still chose to watch Maggie go and fetch a sandwich.
Because it was great.