Hey look, Kinne’s back!
And we mean that in the truest sense of the term, as Kinne Tonight is pretty much identical to Troy Kinne’s previous show on Channel Seven: there are traditional sketches, rapid-fire listical skits, a bit of live stand-up, the kind of harmless street prank that Hamish & Andy used to do, and plenty of Kinne himself being a knockabout decent bloke. If it ain’t broke, and so on.
Pretty much the only things new here are a couple of live sketches and an interview that’s mostly about asking embarrassing questions (the target is Rob “Milsey” Mills, so that’s fine). The opening sketch even features Roz Hammond from his Seven show; maybe it’s a hold over from 2015? Still, there’s always a sense throughout that we’re getting a peek into the way Kinne sees the world; there’s a fair bit of variety in the bits, but they’re all held together by a particular and distinct point of view.
The result is about as good a sketch comedy format as we’ve seen in this country in a long time. Unlike Skit Happens, which just felt like random scenes clumped together, this has a reason for existing as a show; with Kinne as host, there’s a decent hook to hang the show on, and his comedy voice gives it a tone that’s a lot stronger than just a bunch of things a writer’s room thought was funny.
And it’s not like he dominates the show either*; there’s a small sketch troupe that rapidly establish their own personalities, making it possible to throw in the occasional corpse or silly improv and have it feel like a bunch of mates messing around. You know – exactly the tone you want to have on a sketch show.
If only it was funny.
Kinne Tonight does everything right, but the material just isn’t there. The best sketches and moments get a laugh or two, but the worst – and there’s too much of the worst – just lies there. The opening “what if coffee orders reflected the wankers doing the ordering” sketch had good points but definitely needed tightening up, and that was a problem across the board.
Too many sketches felt like they’d thrown in every possible variation on the original idea when they really should have whittled it down to the top five (or three). Even with Kinne literally explaining the premise before the sketch about what it’d be like to have parents like the hapless dolts on infomercials, it was hard to figure out exactly what was going on there – it really needed to set things up more strongly in the sketch itself.
Kinne himself is a great host for a sketch show like this, and the cast were rock-solid too. The format mixed things up so the material always seemed fresh, and the tone was light without getting snarky or self-absorbed. Kinne just needs to find a comedy nerd to team up with who can polish up his material and push it over the top. There’s no point having the best looking car on the road if the damn thing won’t start.
*if anyone remembers Shaun Micallef’s old sketch comedy rule that whenever he’s the host on a show (and as such, has the superior status all hosting scenes – he’s running things) he always plays low status characters in the sketches, they’ll be pleased to see that Kinne follows that same rule here.