The Odd Couple

oddcoupleShaun and long time collaborator Francis Greenslade have long been an odd couple, but for their first time in a starring role onstage together, they will be The Odd Couple.

In Neil Simon’s famous 1960’s play, Shaun plays clean-freak Felix and Francis plays the messy Oscar, both of whom have found themselves recently single, living together and depending on each other. With their friends supporting/hindering them and a date with the sisters from next door, can they really last as roommates?

Recently Shaun and Francis posed as some other famous odd couples for the Fairfax Spectrum magazine – you can see the hilarious results on the SMH website.

The show runs until December 20th at the Melbourne Theatre Company. (I’ll give a review when I see it later this month.)

Mad As Hell Series 6 wrap-up

Mad As Hell S6Ep2: Snoring from MathiasYou still have a few days left to watch Mad As Hell Series 6 on ABC iView. I made a good attempt to write a re-cap of each episode, but you know, life….

Did you catch the funny EPG (the bit of information which shows on your digital TV) easter eggs again? Here’s the ones for every episode I didn’t get time to re-cap:

Episode 8
Investigating a string of murders in which the victims were all found bound in string, a detective wonders whether the deaths are the work of ‘the String Killer’. Unsure, he retires.

Episode 9
On the anniversary or his wife’s botched lobotomy, a lonely widower discovers that love has a funny way of turning up in the most unexpected places – like a toilet bowl, for example.

Episode 10
Biopic of Arun Singh, the Calcutta dust wrangler who taught Mother Teresa to box and, for a week in July 1963, was widely regarded as the handsomest man on Earth.

Episode 11
When a man accidentally runs over a gypsy’s head, she places a terrible curse on him: for an entire year, he will urinate through his nose (after a year, it’s back to the penis as normal).

Episode 12
Trapped underground, three miners keep their spirits up by playing songs to each other on harps. In a twist ending, it turns out the miners have been dead all along & they’re actually trapped underground in heaven.

Our 2016 Interview with Shaun

Mad As Hell S6Ep5: TV HottiesShaun has once again given us some of his valuable time after filming an episode of Mad As Hell recently to answer all our burning questions:

Has this season of Mad As Hell felt more frenetic because of the election which was impending and then imploded?

Tonight (episode 9) felt a lot stranger, because of what happened on Saturday (election) night. We had to put ourselves in a time machine and go ahead three days and think “what’s going to happen on Wednesday?” (They actually taped two openings due to the uncertainty of the election result at the time.)
Before we started, we thought this would be an interesting challenge, as we’ve never actually had to make a show during an election campaign; there was the faux election campaign of 2013 which seemed to go on all year. But this one was announced on the Sunday before we went to air. We anticipated there would be a lot more late writing on a Tuesday, but that hasn’t happened, and the election hasn’t altered the way we approach it at all, but it has focused us on more domestic and election topics, so the shows by the nature, when the election’s not on, tend to be about a range of topics. This season seems to be about 60% about the election, each show. I don’t think it’s made any different to way we do it, just the content.

Who do you think would be the best Prime Minister for comedy’s sake?

I have a suspicion that the next time we see a conservative PM in this country it will be Scott Morrison and he’ll be great. There’s just a confidence and an uncompromising quality about him that would be very valuable to us. I hope Malcolm does well and manages to hold it all together, but I think the next one’s going to be ScoMo.
On the Labor side, I hope Bill Shorten stays with us forever, but I’d like to see Tanya Plibersek or it might be Mark Dreyfuss. I think him against ScoMo might be really interesting.

Do you feel any obligation to bring out the crowd favourites like the Zinger or the Kraken, or only if the flow feels right?

If it feels right. I think we’ve learned that sometimes we write things for characters because we like the character, but we just edit them out, because there’s no reason for the character to be there. The characters are always a delivery system for a joke, rather than the joke in itself. Having said that there we quite a few characters who didn’t have nothing to do with anything tonight.

Francis was all made up as Bobo just… not be there, and leave, yes. Sometimes it’s nice to burn these things to have them and not use, rather than them having nothing to do and having them hang around for too long.

What makes you want to perform a character yourself instead of having the ensemble perform it, such as Cardinal Nosey?

I get sick of sitting behind the desk, and want to play with the rest of them.

[Roz yells] They’re all Rollie!

[Replies, with a smile] No they’re not. Roz thinks all the characters I do sound like Rollie, a character I did in the Micallef Program. Bill Duthie is basically Rollie, just basically an idiot. He was an earnest older man, unaware of his surrounds, and Roz has rightly picked me as simply doing that character in a variety of different voices. Sometimes not even that.

So speaking of characters, why did you choose The Odd Couple to perform with the MTC?

It’s a good play, very good piece of writing. There were three vehicles that I thought would be suitable for Francis and I. One was Sleuth by Antony Shaffer, The Sunshine Boys and The Odd Couple, both by Neil Simon. Amazingly, it was thought we were too young for The Sunshine Boys, so we might do that in a few years, so The Odd Couple was the one we picked.

Will this be set in the 60’s as original written?

I think 1965 was when it originally went to Broadway, and that’s where we’ll set it. There’s something about no mobile phones, there’s something about the attitude towards marriage and women that is best set in the period, otherwise you have to apologise for it and explain it away.

For the casting, you told the audience tonight that weren’t really fussed which role you played and left it up to the director?

I was hoping it would be Felix (the tidy one), so I’m pleased about that. I would have been happy to have played Oscar (the messy one), that would have been more of a challenge.

Francis says you’re the neater one, closer to Felix in real life.

I think maybe that’s true, but I think Francis could have more easily played both. I think Oscar would have been a bit harder for me, so it’s worked out well.

(One option was also to swap roles every night, but that was decidedly too much of a challenge.)

You’ve finished filming the three new Stairway to Heaven specials?

Yes, they’ll be on in August.

How was it with these compared to the first one-off? Did you go in looking for something different?

No it’s the same (quest), because I don’t think I got the answer. I got part of an answer, but I felt less pushed this time, because I had three chances to find the answer. We did get there, we did find out what it was. Luckily in the last episode!

Previously we’ve talking about how people all around the world still love Mr and Mrs Murder, and how the dialog between the characters was so natural. We also spoke about how your nickname for Nicola came about but Mike want’s to know about her’s for you, Chaka-khan?

I came up with Charlie to call her Fizzy, and Kat came up with Nicole to call him Chaka-khan. I guess that comes from Charlie, and it amused Kat. It just sounded close enough and like a pet name. I remember Kat laughing a lot, we were both amused by the characters.

And Mad As Hell is back next year?

I’m not sure if I’m meant to announce it, but yes, we’re back mid next-year. I get to say “see you next year” at the end of the last episode, which I can’t usually.

Will this be your last season at Gordon Street (which is due to close, and where Shaun has filmed most of his shows)?

I think we’re here next year, one more season.

Stay tuned for our interview with Francis!

Happy Birthday Mr M!

Newstopia S3E3 - Cake SpoilersIt’s Shaun’s birthday today, and to help him celebrate, we sent him some European cake spoilers (only $3.96 from a certain hardware chain).

He’s only 54, but if you’re wondering how long he’s had his silvery-locks, he told us he went completely grey in his 30’s, soon after the birth of his first child (completely coincidental, btw)

Returning in 2017 – Mad As Hell and The Ex-PM

Mad As Hell S6Ep1: Fingers crossedIn exciting news, Shaun has let it slip to us that both Mad As Hell and The Ex-PM will both return to the ABC in 2017!

Shaun will film Series 2 of The Ex-PM early next year, which will probably mean the seventh (yep, you read that correctly) series of Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell will slot in mid-year, and will make it Shaun’s longest running television show (TAYG was 72 episodes).

Francis told us recently that Curtis is a character he really enjoys playing (more of that interview soon), so I’m sure he’ll be looking forward to Dugdale’s return.

Recap: Mad As Hell, June 22nd 2016

A time-travelling scientist accidentally steps on a butterfly in the distant past. When he returns to 2016, he discovers to his horror that his tiny action has altered the future – he’s married to a butterfly!

Mad As Hell S6Ep7: Unnamed audience personShaun was mad as hell for the first time this series, because pre-polling has begun and it’s like opening your Christmas presents on Christmas Eve. What kind of person wouldn’t want to wait as long as possible to delay their political gratification? What kind of world are we living in where a 92 year old person could use the excuse that “they wouldn’t be able to walk up the hill to the school on election day” as a reason to prepoll? One unnamed audience member (Francis) says he used that exact reason, but admitted it was because he was sick of the whole campaign, the lies, the spin and the hi-vis vests.

Forty percent of people disapprove of Turnbull, and forty percent disapprove of Shorten – so what of the other 20%? Turnbull is confident the undecided will re-elect his government, but admits it’s their decision – regretfully, the government can’t re-elect itself. Shorten wouldn’t be so arrogant to say they would win, although is that more delusion than arrogance?

Mad As Hell S6Ep7: TurnbullShaun thinks highly of Mr Turnbull, equally doesn’t mind Mr Shorten either, and has a soft spot for the lovable eccentrics, like John Maddigan. It’s us, the voter, who are the issue, because we’ve given up listening and most of us don’t know enough about everything there is – omnignorance. If the voters could tell the politicians what they want to hear them say, it would certainly help the situation, and the new segment Demagogglebox is the answer, where our opinion is . If only we can pay enough attention while dual screening on our mobile phones. #WhatEvs

Mad As Hell S6Ep7: SpokesgollumPreferences will play the biggest role in who gets elected, but what can we make of them when The Greens preference a candidate who has protested every Mardi Gras over a progressive one? Spokesgollum Corriander Tuesday (Emily) is of two minds on the subject, admitting The Greens have changed their mind, but the “tricksy media” is “making nasty wicked conclusions.” Jacqui Lambie isn’t doing any preference deals, and Dolly Norman (Roz) says that Jacqui just does whatever she likes, putting all the workers, families, veterans and students of Tasmania first, making it very crowded in top priority position.

Later in the week, Enid Swink is battling a witch hunt, personal tragedy, and some pretty terrible dialogue, in an ABC drama completely unlike anything with Marta Dusseldorp.

Mad As Hell S6Ep7: Caspar on DemigoggleboxWhat about the delectable inland fruit meat of regional Australia – do they just have Barnaby Joyce looking out for them? Scott Morrison prophesied a Labor/Greens alliance might have anyone in a list of hypothetical unrealistic names standing up for the bush, but Caspar Jonquil is upset – ranting a bunch of baseless ideas and disconnected theories is his thing!

Media Sasquatch casts an eye on Bob Katter’s ad, which is more like a film: Katter plays himself, unconvincingly, squabbling over a “Australia For Sale” sign with the Labor and Liberal parties, until he shoots both of them dead. It’s daring, it’s bleak, and it’s a triumph, and it’s opening the Cairns, not Cannes, Film Festival.

The Liberals have been working on their own ad, one filled with the techno beats of DJ ScoMo and selling the message of the”greening of Labor”, but it’s “in your face” style is likely to lead to the browning of underpants. Bill could only counteract it with a Zinger, and not a good one.

Like a Bill Shorten Zinger, the NBN is something most Australian’s haven’t got, and to stop the it getting constipated, Labor think the project needs more fiber. To argue against this additional spending, Turnbull tried his own zinger – “Shortenonomics” – but it failed.

In an online video, Vote Compass mixed-up the most right-leaning, and most left-leaning electorates, and Shaun can only think it’s because either a magnet got too close to the compass, or because the Fact Check unit has been closed. It must be the latter, since even recent news bulletins have quoted “Prime Minister Derryn Hinch and his wife Scarlett Johansson”.

Later in the week: Howard is spending more time on Menzies. (literally)

Fancying himself a Kingmaker, Shaun has his eyes on Bert Van Manen, who might find himself as PM in 6 months of so. He has media savvy, being able to green-screen himself inside and outside the parliament in exactly the same suit, has the charisma of Luke McGreggor and political nous of Atilla the Hun – certainly one to watch.

Mad As Hell S6Ep7: Bill DuthieBill Duthie has the “Wisdom of the Elders”, although on the subject of former PMs, he has his Whitlam confused with his Chifley and his Holt. This election, Bill is supporting Tony Abbott, a rare politician who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “ousted.” Bill refuses to read the book about Abbott and Peta Credlin, since it’s full of scurrilous lies – he prefers listening to the audio book. He’s even kept a piece of the table Joe Hockey broke on the night of the party vote, which he keeps in a cupboard next to Harold Holt’s skeleton.

Finally, all the parties have been appealing to the migrant communities ahead of the election. Richard DiNatale goes as far to say that it is the migrant communities who have forged this nation – Shaun thinks it’s a brilliant forgery, since it’s got everyone fooled.

Recap: Mad As Hell, June 15th 2016

On a secret mission to kidnap a Nazi ocelot rumoured to know the codes to a submarine, a team of British commandos parachute into Berlin Zoo behind enemy lions.

Mad As Hell S6Ep6: Linked InShaun was up all night watching his MySpace page, waiting for the online election debate to occur. He even considered looking at LinkedIn, but had to settle with cute animal videos. Sadly, some candidates have been having trouble grappling with new media, by sticking to the personal approach of brothel ownership, sending videos of themselves masturbating to their constituents or leaving behind a failed online startup which lost millions of dollars. But Michaelia Cash is not abandoning the traditional “talk to the voters”, which is good considering she can be lip-read from a kiliometre away.

Mad As Hell S6Ep6: Drinking Sump OilBill did two peoples forums in a row this week, debating himself when Malcolm didn’t turn up – Malcolm went to a (Leigh) Sales conference instead, already knowing what questions he didn’t want to answer and making sure Leigh asked them so he could avoid them. Bill struggled at his forum without someone to compare him to, like Chinotto vs sump oil. Chinotto – Into the Bin!
Labor supporters have a choice – attend the launch of their campaign next week, or watch any of the numerous programs on ABC, ABC2, ABC3 or ABC News 24 instead. With 17 days until the election, Ian Orbspider thinks it will difficult to launch something which has already Mad As Hell S6 Ep6: Blackboardbegun, but only if space-time is curved. If they travel back into the past, we have another 4 weeks of campaigning, but they can get rid of David Feeney. Travelling into the future to see how their 10 year plan will go might not be in their best interests.

Financy Boy isn’t available to explain the complex financial issues of the election, so Shaun will do his best so that we the voters can make an informed decision when we step into the cardboard urinal on July 2nd. Labor and Liberal both have 10 year plans, heading in the same direction in different lanes, so much so that Turnbull agrees with Shorten from 2011, even though the Liberals disagreed at the time. Spokesperson for the PM, Balanda Crumpett (Roz), thinks anything can sound unfair if you put it into context, and that context only matters when it supports their argument.

The Libs say Labor’s “plan” is more of a pamphlet, which is the kind of line you’d hear in a half arsed comedy show – like this one. They also say there are more words in the latest Taylor Swift album than Labor’s 10 year plan, but Taylor Swift impersonator Chi-chi Mozilla (Emily) thinks it depends on if it’s her delux version of 1989.

Mad As Hell S6Ep6: NapoleonScott Morrison says Labor has declared a war on business AND growth – fighting on two fronts is difficult, and Napoleon (Francis) agrees.

Mike Svengali(?) (Stephen) has a 6 year old rat and is an inspiration member of the middle-class, and used to be a Labor man, but their negative gearing changes makes him worry about his superfund. Only Caspar Jonquil understands the superannuation changes, but it would be surprising if you wanted to talk to him about it, or anything else.

Later in the week: A fear people said was unthinkable, that no one would listen to; In a place called the future, anything is probable. Too Cleverman 0.5

Bill Shorten was firm Labor would accept the decision of the Fair Work Commission on penalty rates, but only if they remained the same. Anything else would be as likely as aliens making contact, but Crane Girdle (Stephen) thinks will it depend if the aliens are willing to accept a cut in the Sunday pay, and we should be careful picking a fight with the war-like races.

Mad As Hell S6Ep6: StrangleBill seems to like a joke (especially his zingers), but began his bus tour with the announcement: “Welcome to the Bill Bus.” He may have almost said “Welcome to the Shorten Bus”, but because it sounds too much like Short Bus, the film full of explicit group sex, he swapped to “Bill Bus.” Is Shaun completely overthinking it? Write in to win a Ticky Tocky Alarm Clock so you’ll never miss an episode of The Business.

On 4 Corners this week, a look at what it takes to run an Australian farm – from the overseas investors who do it everyday from boardrooms.

In Sport, Maria Sharapova has been banned on her use of not a melodica, not a harmonium, not Boney M, but Meldonium. Chunketta Tongue (Emily), an abattoir administrator, uses it to improve her blood flow, with only the side effect being excessive grunting.

Mad As Hell S6Ep6: Kraken!Andrew Hastie has been dumped from the Army Reserve for appearing on a election poster in his uniform, but if he’s in camouflage, surely it’s not highly visible? Bobo Gargle (Francis) says the ADF has to remain impartial or on the fence, but not on defense – it would be ridiculous to defend those we’re fighting. Bobo wants to break the glass ceiling for women, or at least unleash a (zombie) Kraken it!

Speaking of zombies, Richard DiNatale accused the Liberals of resurrecting the zombie of Tony Abbott, but how do you resurrect something already resurrected?

Mad As Hell S6 Ep6: Howard on MenziesLater in the week: John Howard talks when he first met Robert Menzies, and how he got invited to a “freak out” which ended in him being signed up as a member of Liberal party. Howard on Menzies (literally).

George Pell tendered his resignation as per tradition on turning 75, which, also as tradition, is likely to not be accepted by the Pope. Bishop Straightman says Bishop Pell is having a quiet, reflective birthday, but Cardinal Nosey has organised a complete “Carry On” for his most holy.

Shaun has noticed that Labor’s 10 Year Plan has some similar photos to the Coalition’s Plan from 2013, from the seating arrangement to the venetian blinds – if only they could be in a room together, imagine what could be accomplished!

Matron, please!

Recap: Mad As Hell, June 8th 2016

A dying man decides to embark on a 2000km road trip with his son to visit something or other one last time. But as a surprise, the son buys a pair of plane tickets, so they end up flying instead.

Mad As Hell S6Ep5: Smooth OperatorThe back has been broken of this election, but it’s not paralysed. In fact Labor and Bill have increased in popularity, and Shaun think it’s due to the support of Mad As Hell and his promotion of Bill’s zingers. But what about the Libs and Turnbull? Shaun thinks he’s a smooth operator, but has identified Malcolm’s tell: his propensity to raise up on his toes, and has helpfully highlighted it in order to help Malcolm overcome it. Malcolm is relatable though, because he was once a child, like most of us, but also is willing to talk about sport. Bill tried that, but didn’t know his Maroons from his Storm.

Can Malcolm learn anything from Donald Trump? Only if it’s how to wrestle in the WWE. If he’s looking for bozo’s to inspire him, there’s plenty of local ones – ie. high-ranking MPs – who don’t know their own parties policies. Not to mention all the minor party candidates, who Turnbull likens to throwing your vote away. Like James Mathisen, former Australian Idol presenter and Wake Up host, who is up against Tony Abbott in Warringah – you can vote for James by sending an SMS to 1888 99 66.

Shaun thinks we should look out for NSW MP Robert Borsak, a member of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party, who claims to have shot, killed and eaten an Elephant – a meal that both the meal and the diner never forgets.

The Australian Christian Lobby is linking gay marriage to the rise of Nazi Germany, and the recent parades of gay people marching through the streets of Sydney on their way to Poland would certainly suggest this to be true.

Mad As Hell S6Ep5: Halal vs Anti-HalalSticking to the far-right, the Australian Liberty Alliance is unaware of their dwindling relevance because the leader doesn’t pay attention to the media, or much else. Their call for bans on face coverings puts them as strange bed fellows to the Victorian Police Minister, who voiced his support for the ban after recent clashes between anti-Halal supporters, proving disagreements about how food is prepared can turn ugly (as a photo of Gordon Ramsay shows). Jasper Zelwegger from the Party for Freedom defends his right to his own freedom to deny other people their freedoms. Joachim Spinefex is strongly against Jasper’s group, and will use violence to defend his position. Freedom of Speech is about who is able to call the other unAustralian the loudest, but Shaun wonders why can’t we just live together? (Nailed it!)Mad As Hell S6Ep5: Nails It!

Pauline Hansen is on tour, launching her campaign with the slogan: “You don’t have to be white to be Australian” (but it still matters who and where you worship and where you come from.)

Soon on ABC: Once in a while, ruled by hate, in a world that hates rules, anonymity has a name. A show where real social issues are combined with science fiction and questionable acting – Too Cleverman By Half, Thursday 9:32pm.

Mad As Hell S6Ep5: Detergent buyerThe ACCC has fined Woolworths for selling laundry detergent in ultra-concentrate form but not passing the savings on. It seems the former buyers at Woolworths are to blame, but Dragon O’Hennessy (Francis) is just as happy with being labelled dealer or juggler. He has the good stuff, and as it’s easier to transport in concentrate, and they’ve made more from the scheme than the fine from the ACCC, which is a like a “drop of powerball detergent tablet in the ocean.” He also gave Shaun a sample, but using it might cause you to find yourself in hot water.

There’s a Twitter war between the Libs and Nick Xenophon’s team over stolen electoral posters, but Jelly Cannister (Emily) has found the culprit – herself. She’s such as fan of Christopher Pyne that stealing 500 posters seems fairly rational, although the nurse says she can’t fit them all on the wall.

In News from Countries Other Than Australia (brought to you by the Mad As Hell Voting Gyroscope), anti-slavery documents have been sold at auction, presumably with some rich white people bidding over them. The Pope has praised some actors for their work on a Vatican education initiative, but was less positive about some of their box office flops. Afterwards, George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin met the Pope, both looking fetching in their suit and knee-length dress respectively, as was Cardinal George Pell when he was recently spotted in his tweed sports jacket downing a pot of Peroni over lunch.
Mad As Hell S6Ep5: TV HottiesA recent Unesco report on climate changes influence on world heritage sites and tourism has had a section on the Great Barrier Reef removed from it, which is like leaving Shaun out of a Facebook page of Australian TV hotties. Government advisor Bison Jugular (Roz) says that if the government hadn’t asked for it to be removed from the report, tourists may have stopped visiting the reef because it was dying, which it is, but they shouldn’t know that.

Derica Boing investigated the seat of Fairfax, the soon-to-be-former seat of Clive Palmer, and after that experience, found that the locals have a strong, strong distrust of politicians.

Mad As Hell S6Ep5: HelicopterThe woman famous for having a mattress named after her, the Queen, is celebrating her 90th birthday. Lois Price (Emily) was high in the sky, talking Shaun through the photo shoot in Vanity Fair: one with her and her pure and cross bred dogs and another with her in-bred grandchildren. Don’t forget to mention this program when visiting Li’s Popup Massage Tent for a look of confusion.

You won’t see that kind of satire on The Chaser.