We knew there were only two ways this story could end. Either Briggs didn’t return to The Weekly this week, turning the show into a laughing stock that couldn’t even accurately predict when core cast members were going to appear, or Briggs showed up and we could all go back to ignoring The Weekly. Almost exactly 15 minutes into this week’s episode Charlie Pickering threw to Briggs, we had our answer, and we returned to our back issues of Viz without a second’s thought.
… and yet, something didn’t seem quite right. Why was Briggs – and remember, Briggs is now a core cast member of the show, featured both in the opening credits and all the press photos – coming to us “live” from his couch? And considering most segments on The Weekly are led by the guest – they come on, they do most of the talking, Pickering just drops in the occasional brilliantly funny line that redefines comedy for a generation – why did this segment feel pretty much exactly like the typical mid-show rant from Pickering with 60 seconds of Briggs cutaways edited in?
We’re not joking about the 60 seconds, mind you. Barely 40 seconds into the bit we’re back to the news clips, then there’s a couple of one-liners from Briggs and we’re done. He gets laughs – they’re decent lines and he sells them well – but considering before this season began he was touted as having “joined the cast”, having his first appearance in five weeks be as someone dropping a handful of jokes into the kind of segment the show usually happily does without him hardly makes it seem like he’s a core member of the cast.
Contrast this with comedy pothole Tom Gleeson, who appeared not once but twice this episode – once to do some pointless desk-bound mumble, then again at the show’s rear end for Hard Chat, where Kerri Anne Kennerley “tore him a new one”. Has anyone else noticed how so much of Gleeson’s work increasingly relies on the pleasure the audience feels from seeing him being treated like shit? Yeah, wonder why people enjoy that so much.
And yet this is a show that seems to think what the audience wants is more Tom Gleeson. Why? What possible basis could they have for thinking that? Gleeson is perfectly serviceable as someone performing an act that most people can identify as “comedy”, but Kitty Flanagan is the one actually being funny on this show – and yet here we are, getting two segments with Gleeson, one with Flanagan and a full minute of Briggs. Which is pretty much the exact opposite of what a show trying to be funny would do.
Unless, of course, what we’re really talking about is that Pickering actually seems to get along with Gleeson in person* – something that reflects poorly on both of them – while the one time that Briggs has appeared in the same room as Pickering in 2017 you could have cut the tension with a knife only you probably wouldn’t have wanted to have brought a knife into that particular room. Has Briggs been seen back on set since then? No he has not.
To sum up: Briggs gets around one minute of air time in the middle of someone else’s segment. Tom Gleeson gets two entire segments. Remember the very first sketch of the year? The one where The Weekly made a joke about the show being “too white” but don’t worry, they were going to change all that? Not so funny now, is it?
… oh wait, it wasn’t even funny then. Shit.
*Pickering’s final line of the night, in case you missed it, was “Thanks Tom Gleeson, everybody else”.