Monday, April 10, 2006

Far and Away

And this is why you don't be a dick in your career.

Fifteen ... let me walk that off ... fifteen years ago, DJ McCarthey and I went to Melbourne to perform for two months at the Last Laugh Theater, overlapping with the Melbourne Comedy Festival. DJ got all the great reviews, while I did all the heavy lifting. It was ever thus.

The booker who brought us over there was Rick McKenna, a great bloke who delighted in tormenting me with cultural pranks. But although he was a fine guy and we got along great, he was a club owner like all the rest. He was a bit eclipsed by his immensely talented wife Gina, who was both funny and had a set of pipes on her like Big Mama Thornton.

Last year Lovely Wife adds some Aussie show to the Tivo list that she's heard good things about -- Kath & Kim. It is funny and broken and the characters are truly awful in that distinctively Commonwealth way -- wait, is that Gina Riley? Well, I'll be damned. I wonder if this show is popular?

Um, yes. As in broadcast in several dozen countries, biggest comedy hit in Australian history popular. And, inexplicably, Gina has still not shed Rick, as he explained while we had drinks at the Polo Lounge tonight -- Rick being in town to negotiate a massive American network TV deal. He is now the type of people who would not return my call if I had not, at some point, worn a goofy robot shirt because he assured me it would be a good idea.

Several hours later, discussions about Australian TV, international financing and DVD sales later, I realize I have been given yet another lesson in the somewhat pokey yet relentless inevitibility of karma. It's not quite as explicit as how the office assistant to the two writers who wrote my pilot became the head of ABC comedy just eight years later, but damn close.

16 comments:

Mik said...

Oh, Kath & Kim is wonderful! It's been running in the more obscure corners of British and Irish telly for a year or two now.

Finally an Australian TV show as witty, idiosyncratic, and original as the best of Aussie cinema. Previous encounters with Aussie telly have not been pleasant.

Still for me it's the supporting characters I love most. Especially Sharon....

DJ said...

“While I did all the heavy lifting”. By heavy lifting you mean pints, right? Just remember “They call the wind Myria” and I still have the Robot shirt. Call it my retirement plan.

Joshua said...

Perhaps I missed it, but who was a dick to whom and when and how did it cost them via career?

btw John, I went to an indie-theatre convocation in nyc last night (they're setting up a theatre verson of imdb, amother other things) which was packed to the gills (and surprised the organizers) with writers and directors in new york theatre. A good deal of folk there mentioned my blog, (which was a surprise to me, because I had no idea anyone was really listening) and a lot of 'em mentioned Kung Fu Monkey - just wanted you to know that you have fans out in the indie-theatre world!

shecanfilmit said...

I watched Kath and Kim for the first time this weekend and got totally sucked into it. The characters are awful, sort of like the Bundys... but with more pathos and dark humor. Definitely its own special thing and one I would watch again, even if it does make me cringe.

m1k3y said...

speaking as an aussie, am glad to see Kath'n'Kim getting the props it deserves..

it is hilarious.. though the DaVinci Code special they did fell short of the mark.

they've even contributed to our lexicon, adding the term Muffin Top..

the only other current australian comedy that i'd recommend is the Ronnie Johns Show.. particularly good for its Chopper Read skits..

and, if you haven't seen the best australian film in years, Chopper see that too..

Konrad West said...

Yay! Props to Kath and Kim, one of the very few, good Australian TV shows.

John, when are you going to do the Melbourne Comedy Festival again?

Dave said...

It's up there with Little Britain and Arrested Development as my best of recent years. Though I'm amazed that people outside Australia, heck, outside Melbourne actually get it.

Gina was also excellent in the hilarious series The Games, with two other smart and madly funny Aussies, John Clarke and Bryan Dawe.

(Yes, I know he's nominally a Kiwi. It's only a matter of time.)

Crritic! said...

As an Australian and a survivor of Melbourne suburbs VERY close to Kath and Kim ground zero, it is strange indeed to see evidence of people on the other side of the world singing praises of something so incredibly local. The whole show is one long Aussie in-joke.

Is it that by making something so precisely local and distinctive, it achieves universality despite itself?

Maybe we're not as different as we think.

fgfdsg said...

I'm amazed by the success of Kath and Kim overseas too, since it seems so incredibly culturally-specific. What do Americans make of jokes about Footy Franks and Dippity Bix?

Do they understand the humour in the language, (Kath and Kim's mode of speech is pure middle class affectation with phonetic slips that betray their lower class heritage - 'nice' becomes 'noice' for example), or do they think that's how Australian's actually talk?

Gina Riley always makes me laugh. Ask to see her 'Liza Minelli from Hell' Saturday Show Host sometime.

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Riyan Cilacap said...

Thank You Verry Much, Ijin nitip gan dan trimaksih atas infonya

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