And just when the election campaign was starting to heat up too. Only joking! Like this election campaign will ever “heat up”: Scott Morrison is the kind of thuggish suburban bully everyone (outside the media) hates, Anthony Albanese is a submarine, and the media coverage is so meta you’d be forgiven for thinking there was nothing at stake here despite – for example – a literal plague killing dozens of people a day every single day. Mad as Hell? You’re not wrong.
So yes, it’s a touch disappointing that Mad as Hell has wrapped up with weeks of election campaigning to go. Or is it? As pretty much the last vestige of the once-proud tradition of Australian sketch and satirical comedy, Mad as Hell is more important to the nation than mere politics. And yet it’s hard to deny that this past series has seen Mad as Hell dominated by politics as never before.
Whether thanks to budget cuts or covid or the general grim tone of everything else, the various non-political elements of Mad as Hell were in short supply in the 2022 version. TV parodies, social commentary, stupid characters doing stupid things; all shunted aside in favour of a whole lot of desk interviews with political spokespeople of various comedy stripes. Even Darius Horsham came back! Which was in no way a bad thing, but was most definitely an unusual thing.
Scripting and performing a weekly comedy series must be incredibly tough work, and finding inspiration after – 10 years? Shit, you get less for murder – has got to be a struggle at times. So when there’s a parade of smarmy self-serving political dickheads constantly cocking up on the public stage, we can hardly fault Mad as Hell for picking up the comedy baton and running with it.
And let’s be honest here: the Australian media is not exactly reluctant to talk complete and utter bullshit when it comes to promoting a range of opinions that just coincidentally coincide with the view of the world the LNP likes to ally itself with. “Workers rejoice as removal of close contact rules mean they’re now required to attend work while sick”, etc etc, you couldn’t make this crap up.
Mad as Hell could be a dour laugh-free half hour (it isn’t) and it’d still be must-see viewing simply because it’s the rare Australian television program that suggests that rampant pork-barrelling and pissing taxpayer money up against a wall is something we should frown at even though it’s our bonza good mate Scotty doing it.
Still, occasionally we found ourselves thinking during the most recent series that maybe Mad as Hell was possibly doing slightly too good a job of reflecting the current claustrophobic state of Australian public life back to us. Could there be more to Australia than having to suffer through an incompetent governments’ blatant corruption and naked disinterest in the public good? Eh, we’ll have to get back to you on that.
Obviously with an election looming and then toppling over onto us all, politics were at the forefront of daily life in Australia in 2022. There’s no Australian comedy series we’d rather see tackle politics than Mad as Hell, and not just because there are no other Australian comedy series. Fingers firmly crossed that when it returns later in the year we’ll all be looking past the political realm and engaging with the wider world beyond.
Good luck finding anything to laugh at there.