Making topical comedy isn’t easy. Forget the time constraints: we’re talking about having to make comedy out of the daily news. In Australia no less, land of no amusing news in good times or bad. And at the moment, things are pretty, pretty, pretty bad.
Was 2021 the year that much of Australia woke up to the fact that the LNP approach of slotting in bullies, thugs, accused rapists and corrupt do-nothings as political leaders maybe isn’t the right way to go when faced with a global pandemic requiring governments to do more than pork-barrel marginal seats and hand out cash to their mates / secret lovers? Fucked if we know, we just review comedy. What we do know is, there’s not a lot of laughs in that scenario.
Sure, times are just fine if you’re making the usual smug garbage the ABC tries to pass off as comedy. You know what we mean – topical comedy where the core assumption is that so long as house prices continue to soar and tradies can find work on building sites, everything else (for people with secure work and at least one house) will take care of itself. Excited about Question Everything? We sure are!
Considering it’s now just Charlie Pickering behind a desk talking about other networks’ news footage, we have no idea why we’re not getting a second season of The Weekly this year. We’d like to think it’s because someone in head office finally realised that when things are actually going bad out in the community, the show that gave us Corona Cops isn’t just missing the mark, it’s insulting what little remains of its audience.
That kind of smug unfunny “centrist” comedy is basically the equivalent of being gaslit by your local Murdoch rag, a pissweak attempt to pass off sneering assumptions from 2006 as something somehow related to the world everyone else is living in today. At least with The Cheap Seats they’re mostly making fun of wacky news clips from overseas, not re-voicing actual local news footage to make cheap jokes about *checks notes* *voice drops a couple octaves* a deadly pandemic.
So yeah, times are tough. And Mad as Hell stepped up. It didn’t escape our notice that the final episode was, for large chunks of the run time, basically just a laundry list of all the things the federal government has completely screwed up. Which is absolutely what a topical comedy show at this point in time should be doing, because what bigger news could there be than the revelation that during a national crisis our federal leaders are… well, let’s keep it at “not up to the task”?
Unlike this post, Mad as Hell wasn’t a grim litany of failure shrieked out by a demented lunatic either. Jokes! Funny bits! The cast all swapped characters! A musical number! These were all good things.
But really, the show’s big achievement this year was that it managed to be funny while making fun of a national situation that’s increasingly just a bit shit. It wasn’t the much-vaunted by idiots “escape from the grim headlines” kind of show; rather it was a crack team of comedy professionals seeing the world clearly and finding the humour in it no matter how deeply it was buried. Renew Mad as Hell for 2022 now, you cowards!
Also they made fun of Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery, and that show is rubbish.