So for reasons inexplicable even to us, we tuned into the second installment of Tomorrow Tonight. Clearly we’ve learned nothing from decades of Australian comedy, let alone the experience of watching episode one. But did our return reveal a show that was, first episode aside, trying to be funny?
Well, not really, This week’s episode was largely about ethics, and whether people should be forced to be good. Having Tom Gleeson on board was – surprisingly – a big help here. His “complete arsehole” comedy persona gave him plenty of room to not give a shit about anyone else and turn some fairly dull scenarios into mildly amusing comedy.
He did also occasionally reveal a softer side too. Like the time the first review of one of his shows was massively negative and he briefly worried that hey, maybe he did suck. But then everyone else gave him five stars and the show was a huge sell-out and it turned out he was a comedy genius after all. More points to Gleeson: he made a joke out of how his success restored his faith in himself.
Otherwise the highlight was Pickering’s somewhat unhinged demand that society should, if not actively punish people who don’t help others (ie by giving blood), then most definitely reward those who do. Yes, the big problem there is that once you start down that path society may very well adjust itself so that the “reward” for doing good becomes the baseline and those who don’t chip in are punished by default, but this is a light entertainment panel show and Pickering’s nutty statement – which he seemed to believe in quite strongly – was more interesting than our boring rebuttal.
And that’s the real problem with this show. Addressing these issues seriously is boring. Maybe if each week’s topic was some insane cutting edge cultural development that could spin off in any direction, then having random comedians discuss it could generate some useful info. But these topics are already well-trod ground. We’re not learning anything new here.
When Gleeson took the piss, Tomorrow Tonight suddenly had a reason to exist. A very brief reason, and not one you could do every week – which is also the problem with Gleeson’s act in general, but he’s making a buck from it so good on him. It’s a show that can only be funny when people are trying to tear it down; going along with the format just seems to produce a lot of bland television.
So yeah, mission accomplished once again ABC.