Superwog is back on both iView (all of season 2) and the ABC, and you know what? We actually enjoyed it. Sure, it’s not as funny as the time Nick Giannopoulos got his lawyers to try and stop comedians from using the word “wog” in their shows, but that remains the pinnacle of wog-based comedy in this country; there’s no shame in standing in that mighty shadow.
There’s not a lot of moving parts in your average Superwog episode. Superwog (Theodore Saidden) is a teen doing teen shit with his best mate Johnny (Nathan Saidden); his parents (also the Saiddens) are broad comedy stereotypes who remain recognisable enough to get laughs.
The first episode of season 2 has two parallel car-related storylines: Superwog tries to get his P plates, while Wog Dad tries to stop his neighbour from parking out the front of his house. Will Superwog get the angry instructor who fails everyone? Will Wog Dad’s scheme to set up house on the road outside his house pay off? Will there be a fair amount of yelling and flailing about either way?
Most Aussie sitcoms are culturally non-specific; locations and the occasional accent aside, there’s nothing particularly Australian about shows like Rosehaven and How to Stay Married. What they are is firmly middle-class. For some reason, Australian culture is seen as something only poor people have – middle class sitcoms exist in a bland netherworld where the occasional reference to cricket is as local as it gets.
Superwog, on the other hand, is Aussie as – or at least, it’s not afraid to make jokes about things that actually happen to average people in Australia. A major plot point is the importance of giving the thank you wave after another driver lets you in; if you haven’t been pissed off by a neighbour parking their car in front of your house then you probably live in a block of flats. It’s not exactly subtle, but it’s also the kind of comedy we don’t get to see often enough.
(A later episode involves a swooping magpie; good luck pitching that plotline to the US)
“But what about the extensive body of work belonging to one Paul Fenech?” we hear you ask. Yeah, it’s true, once upon a time Fenech had a few real observations about working class / immigrant Australian society scattered in between the shouting and swearing and thonging. But these days? His characters’ aren’t recognisably human, let alone Australian.
Superwog is pretty blunt at times and there’s plenty of shouting and running around, but even the comedy swearing isn’t usually a punchline in itself. And while we’re not talking Seinfeld-level plotting or anything, both plots in the first episode have a beginning, middle and end that make (comedy) sense while being funny all along the way, which isn’t something you can say about most Aussie sitcoms.
Sure, nobody’s claiming that a sequence based around turning on the cold taps while someone’s in the shower is classic comedy or anything. But it’s still funnier than anything on two entire seasons of Squinters.
Aw, that magpie episode gave me a good old giggle. Nice payoff at the end too, very Hitchcock.