And now for one of the glittering jewels in the Australian Tumbleweeds Awards Crown: Worst Overall Comedy. These are the programmes whose awfulness extends beyond the confines of their own particular categories to make them exemplars of bad comedy across the entire field of Australian entertainment. When people think of bad comedy in this country, these are the shows they think of:
Seeing the same old farts do the same old jokes that were stale two decades ago, let alone a decade ago when they actually stopped doing them, may make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside but it sure doesn't make you laugh. Which is pretty much the kindest thing it's possible to say about Hey Hey it's Saturday, a show that spent the last decade of its existence getting "laughs" almost entirely from making fun of other people. What did you think Red Faces was actually about? Or all those gay jokes towards Molly Meldrum? Or all the snide comments from John Blackman? Or Daryl's refusal to work with a female co-host who was actually funny? For Christ's sake, the only thing Jacki MacDonald got to do on the show was mine to a song that went "folks are dumb where I come from". So what does Daryl do when he finally gets to make an episode of Hey Hey... in the 21st Century? He brings on a blackface act. Same shit, different day. Trumpet solo!
CUT TO SOMERS FUMING BEHIND HIS DESK AS HARRY WINDS UP. THE AUDIENCE APPLAUDS WILDLY AND SOMERS MAKES ANGRY "QUIET DOWN" GESTURES.SOMERS
I'm sorry, I must apologise - that wasn't the number we rehearsed. That was deeply unprofessional, and I promise that we will no longer have "live" music on my show as a result of this shameful act.
Imagine, if you will, a local council who've decided to do something good for the community. Build a playground in an area where the kids have nowhere to play, perhaps. They've bought the land, cleared it, put up plenty of signs and directions to it so the local kids know how to find it. But instead of putting in any actual play equipment, they've just carted in a huge pile of broken and leaking portable toilets fresh from a building site staffed by workers who only consume bean-based foodstuffs. Now replace "playground" with "sketch comedy" and you've got a pretty good idea of what Channel Seven did when they put Double Take on the air.
Good News Week: it just keeps on going, doesn't it? It's not even like they pretend that they come up with new jokes each week, or that every episode isn't the exact same thing over and over. Because that's the point: with the confetti cannons and the over-sugared audience and Paul McDermott doing his tired ringmaster bit, Good News Week is meant to be like some live concert event where the whole point is that you know exactly what you're going to get. "Do the fat jokes about Mikey Robbins again!" "Make another obvious political gag!" "Get all serious and sing another torch song!" No doubt it's comfort food for some but, if you happen to think comedy needs to contain at least the smallest element of surprise to work, this hasn't been funny this century.