The Bazura Project, Australia’s longest running sketch comedy program about arthouse film, recently announced they were back after a 10 year absence – in pog(dcast) form. And now you know why we review comedy instead of writing it. Speaking of reviewing, the first episode is available now pretty much everywhere – including their own website – and as it’s free, we gave up 38-odd minutes of our lives to check it out. The verdict?
Australian sketch comedy is in a rut so deep it’s turned into a grave. The Bazura Project’s Radio Free Cinema is a reminder that it doesn’t have to be this way. There isn’t a topical political sketch to be found; there’s zero references to the environment, or relationships, or sport. Okay, maybe there’s some celebrities in there, if Russel Crowe still counts.
What you do get is movie jokes and lots of them. Obscure references, obvious references, references to films they just made up – they’re all here. The opening radio news break sets the scene: this is a world where film reigns supreme, right down to the traffic report covering the queues at local cinemas. Grumps complaining that the arts should get as much news coverage as sport, this one’s for you.
Episode one (and presumably the ones to come) is formatted like a radio show. Like all good sketch shows, the sketches are a mix of pre-recorded bits (fake trailers and the like) and live (well, “live”) segments. The longer sketches usually take the form of fake interviews (or in one case, a fake prank call) involving hosts and writers Lee Zachariah and Shannon Marinko. The pre-release publicity promised a bevvy of stars, and there are a lot of guest voices here; any sketch show with Pete Smith involved is clearly doing something right.
(probably the biggest one-off laugh in the first episode comes from a very obvious cameo we won’t spoil here)
Those used to having podcasts droning away in the background while doing the dishes may struggle here. It requires your full attention and then some; there’s a lot going on and some of the best jokes may take a second or two to sink in. A passing knowledge of the golden age of cinema wouldn’t hurt either. It’d be nice to think Casablanca jokes are still mainstream but hey, we’ve seen Fat Pizza.
Even Bad Boy Bubby: The Musical requires you to remember Bad Boy Bubby, a film that is currently (checks IMDB), five years older than Lil Nas X. And that’s a situation we don’t expect to change any time soon. Is it right that jokes about Bad Boy Bubby are “niche” while references to Lil Nas X are “topical”? Hey, we don’t make the rules.
Comedy is where you find it. Fans of tropical references will find commercial radio DJs have that covered for at least seven minutes across each hour. Fans of jokes that are funny? The link’s in the first paragraph.