Nobody expects much from end of year comedy specials in Australia. Wait, we mean “nobody expects much from comedy in Australia” because oooh, sick burn. But end of year comedy is especially lacklustre, what with ratings being over and half the country being on fire and sport being the only thing actually on television for the next six weeks or so. And yet, somehow this year’s batch was even more depressing than usual. What happened?
To start off with a series you almost certainly didn’t know even went to air, Metro Sexual was an eight-part series of ten minute episodes that Nine Go! bundled into two hour-long blocks and put to air after ten pm on a weeknight. That’s promotion for you!
Set in an inner city sexual health clinic, and with Geraldine Hickey and Riley Nottingham as the leads, it was a no budget series largely shot mockumentary style (well, there was a bunch of talking to camera going on) with the occasional name brand guest star (Ryan Shelton! Toby Truslove! Jo Stanley! Some other people) and just enough going on to make the ten minute length seem like plenty. Oh wait, there’s another three episodes on directly afterwards.
Honestly, Australia should be making series like this every month of the year. Not because it’s good, but because if we made that many then chances are one of them really would be good. This had its moments; it also had a lot of jokes about dicks and sex rashes. Chances are it won’t be back.
The same can’t be said for Hard Quiz, which had a celebrity version on this week for some reason that usually involves cross promotion. It was a typical episode of Hard Quiz, only this time the contestants were slightly better than usual at bantering, which it turns out makes the whole thing a lot more watchable. Well, as watchable as half an hour of scattershot banter can be, which really seems to be the goal of most Australian comedy these days. They’ll just be broadcasting live randos talking shit from the inside of pubs by the end of 2020.
As for The Yearly, starting off with Bill Shorten making fun of himself and 2019 being “a year of big upsets” set the stage for what was to come: a big steaming bag of crap. Which was exactly the same as every other episode of The Weekly right down to Charlie Pickering telling us he was “pumped to be here” because who gives a fuck if Pickering is thrilled to have a well-paid gig hosting his own show? He makes so much money he should be thrilled to be hosting an episode entirely full of tweets telling him he’s shit in a wig; put some of that energy into making a funny show and maybe we’ll talk.
Why does The Weekly get to do a year-in-review show anyway? Yes, it’s probably going to be a greatest hits clip show no matter who hosts it, but it’s difficult to imagine somebody actually funny choosing to start off proceedings with “Roger Federer got locked out of a tennis court because he didn’t have his ID!!!” Even that Sammy J clip show last Sunday that turned out to be from 2018 was more relevant.
But of course, The Weekly – and The Yearly – is where you go for the kind of laughs that get a lot of audience applause and not a whole lot of laughs. The point isn’t to be funny, it’s to confirm the viewer’s prejudices and opinions – you know, politicians are dumb, reality TV is dumb, saying “how good is” is a brilliant punchline that really hurts “ScoMo” instead of just strengthening his brand, people on television are dumb, fake awards are funny, people on breakfast television are dumb, politicians trying to be relatable are hilarious, constantly saying “coming up shortly” is a great way to pad out an hour-long special, and then we fell asleep.
Having Judith Lucy on was the clear highlight of The Weekly this year, and having her on The Yearly talking about “naked bikinis” and “when was the last time gravity bought me a drink?” once again left us wondering why the hell the ABC doesn’t just give her a show. Her comedy interview with the Climate Change Council was funnier than every single installment of Hard Chat stacked on top of each other while also making a decent point about a topical subject – which seems to be written into the charter of The Weekly somewhere because again, it’s not even trying to be funny half the time.
We’ve mentioned before that Australian television’s major motivation these days is to hang onto the viewers they already have, which probably explains why Roy & H.G. are somehow part of The Weekly‘s roster. Also that English guy who presumably works cheap. And having Tom Gleeson say his Gold Logies win was “for the people” then interviewing himself somehow managed to seem more revealing than it was intended to be. It even ended with him laughing at his own “thanks for chatting – hard!” sign off. What a hilarious guy.
But to be fair, him saying “This Hard Chat’s a wank” did save us the bother of coming up with something original to say here, which for this time of year seems about right. Fuck it, see you in 2020 for the second season of Sando.