One of the many, many ways you can tell Mad as Hell is a great comedy show is that when things get shit out in the real world, the comedy on Mad as Hell gets sharper. Which sounds like it should be obvious, but then you remember The Weekly gave us multiple seasons of Corona Cops during a pandemic where hundreds of people in Australia died and gee, the bar isn’t so much low as buried in an abandoned NBN trench when it comes to Australian satire these days.
This week’s episode was especially interesting, in that on a couple of occasions it seemed so cutting that the audience – in stark contrast to last week’s extremely enthusiastic crowd – forgot to go nuts. Maybe they’d been flown in from NSW? It’s amazing how the national discourse has suddenly turned to “oh well, guess there’s no stopping this Delta variant, time to learn to live with it” now that people are on ventilators within coughing distance of the country’s media HQs.
But across the board this week’s episode seemed firmly determined to sink the boot in, from the 100% percent accurate and deserved dismissal of
Dr Karl Dr Orbspider to an even more brutal than usual kicking delivered to the Daily Telegraph to calling Micallef himself FriendlyJordies (ouch). Not to mention the usual savaging directed towards our political leaders; we’re fairly sure there’s a very good reason why every episode begins with Scott Morrison telling everyone to leave Mad as Hell alone.
Sure, there was plenty of quality lightweight stuff in the mix too. Micallef eating popcorn! “Australia’s immunity will be seen and not… herd”! But on the whole with this week’s episode there seemed just a slight undercurrent of “this country’s fuckin’ fucked”. Hey, it’s not like they’re wrong.
Let’s be honest: we’re very much here for an Australian comedy series that actually has something to say. Most of the time our current comedy is either bland to the point of pointlessness, or simply the kind of good time you get when a bunch of mates are hanging out talking shit to (and about) each other. There’s a time and a place for that kind of thing (in the case of The Weekly, that place is the bin), but in 2021 things are just a little too serious for that to be the only kind of laughs on the menu.
At a time when comedy itself seems to be on the chopping block – comedy movies are dead, sitcoms are close behind, don’t even mention sketch shows and stand-up specials are people crying in their room about how being online is stressful – Mad as Hell increasingly seems like an outlier. The idea that you can have a view on current affairs and still make jokes about it (rather than just shouting at people) is increasingly out of style; each week Mad as Hell proves you don’t have to be fashionable to be funny.