Seventeen nine-tee-hee nine reasons to laugh

Umbrella recently released the DVD Studio 9 – The Home of Australian Television, featuring golden moments from Channel 9’s glorious past. As you might expect this includes yet another opportunity to see Graham Kennedy’s set falling over, plus all the other classic Channel 9 clips that get dragged out every time they do one of these retrospectives. And who isn’t prepared to spend $17.99 to watch all them again?

To put this in a little context, the golden moments package is actually a program from 2004 called Inside Studio 9, a celebration of live TV broadcast from the famous GTV-9 studio where shows such as In Melbourne Tonight (both versions), The Don Lane Show and The Footy Show were made. Hosted by Don Lane, it does (mercifully) include many, many clips you probably haven’t seen before, including performances from well-known local and international acts, talent show contestants making dicks of themselves, live ads going wrong, and some really quite dodgy clips of Sam Newman and his footy-loving co-panellists doing their thing*.

If the latter turns you off, at least most of the clips last less than 20 seconds. On the other hand, if you want any sort of context for the clips forget it – one joke from a comedian, or one chorus from a singer, or one short anecdote from a chat show guest are all you’re gunna get. As clip show packages of this ilk go it’s pretty good, although what with all the incredibly short clips and with Lane’s links being so short as to barely be worthwhile, you wonder if the producers were on speed when they put this together.

Also on this disc is the notorious Don Lane Celebrity Roast from 1978. Inspired by The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, this is Channel 9’s first attempt at the genre – and as Roastmaster Bert Newton jokes “If this doesn’t rate there’ll be another roast next week…in Kerry Packer’s office!”

Helping Bert to roast Don in the studio are Paul Hogan, David Frost, Whitlam-era Minister Fred Daly and Don Lane Show writer Tim Evans, plus (on film) Sammy Davis Jr, Frank Thring and Toni Lamond. As roasts go this is a fairly gentle affair, with Frank Thring’s section, in which he reads out telegrams from various notables who couldn’t attend, being the only point at which things get truly vicious.

Hoges, Bert and Evans have some pretty funny things to say about Don’s history, professional achievements and personal life, and Sammy Davis Jr and Toni Lamond do their best to be funny in their pre-filmed segments.

David Frost’s appearance is quite interesting, particularly as he spends much of it barely trying not to look as if he has somewhere better to be. A reasonably large proportion of his speech about Don consists of jokes about himself, and when it concludes and Bert holds up a copy of Frost’s (then new) book about his famous interviews with Richard Nixon, it’s hard not wonder if Frost was treating this like a chat show appearance. Or wonder if he’d ever met Don at all!

But despite Frost and the politician-trying-to-be-funny stylings of Fred Daly, this is well worth setting aside 45 minutes to watch. And coupled with the Studio 9 clip fest, it’s several hours-worth of (almost) consistent laughs – and who isn’t prepared to pay $17.99 for that?


* Speaking of dodgy, there are also two clips featuring Rolf Harris in Inside Studio 9.

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