We don’t usually run scuttlebutt here at the Australian Tumbleweeds, and not just because we’re not entirely sure what that word means. But after the flood of emails – well, three emails – we’ve received over the last week, we figured it was our civic duty to let the public know of what we can only call a bloodbath at the offices of one of this nation’s most prominent sketch comedy shows. Okay, it’s the only current sketch comedy show. But still: BLOODBATH.
Or to put it in slightly less tabloid terms, it seems that Open Slather just sacked a whole lot of their writing staff.
We heard rumours a week or two back that the two head writers had been given the chop, but now it seems the current management has run through the writing room with a scythe. It doesn’t seem to have come as a huge surprise – by all accounts the writers room was fairly heavily over-staffed, and not everyone there was getting material on the show – but when we’re being told that the numbers have dropped from around forty down to nine, that’s some pretty serious cuts right there.
Presumably management has decided that for what they’re trying to do they only need a core handful of staff. After all, who needs professional comedy writers?
Turning up to work to tell jokes sounds like a dream job. And for actor Ben Gerrard, Foxtel’s new Open Slather, has been just that for 3 months. But it’s also been a lot of work in the school of sketch comedy, juggling both performing and writing.
“It’s been an exciting challenge the way we are creatively involved,” he explains. “On the days you’re not shooting it’s by no means a day off. You’re constantly workshopping with writers, each other, and developing with everyone.
“I shot the first sketch I had written a week or so ago and there’s other stuff in development.
“For the performers it’s like going through an apprenticeship of writing in sketch. That’s the amazing challenge of the job.”
And now having gone through their apprenticeship, the cast can now take over from the recently sacked writers. Hope they’re getting paid extra!
What effect this will have on the end product (if any) remains a mystery. As we said, it seems like Open Slather was at least somewhat over-staffed, and a lot of the material is fairly performer-led, so as long as the cast is still around – and as far as we know all the on-air talent remains – the series should continue pretty much as is.
So, you know, great news there.