Mad as Hell returns on Wednesday June 21 at 8.30pm

Mad As Hell S6Ep5: Smooth OperatorWhat more is there to say?

Okay, maybe the press release:

Mad as Hell returns to face a world that’s madder and badder than ever before; a world poised on the brink of a nuclear winter; where Europe is falling apart; where a President and a Supreme Leader are largely interchangeable, a Liberal Treasurer can deliver a Labor budget as if its normal and our raw sewage is spied on by the government for metadata; a world where we’re all running out of power, housing, money, time, climate, journalism, non-renewables, patience – and nothing makes sense anymore. Nothing that is, except Shaun Micallef’s weekly expert analysis of the Kafka-esque nightmare that our world has become.

Fewer ads than The Project; earlier than Heads Up with Chris Kenny; and a good twenty three and half hours shorter than the former ABC News 24, Mad as Hell returns on Wednesday June 21 at 8.30pm.

Oh, and in other news…
This website is seven years old today! Woohoo!

Stairway to Heaven specials start Wednesday

After much anticipation, Shaun’s Stairway to Heaven specials continue this Wednesday on SBS at 8:30pm.

Following on from his singular special in 2014, Shaun is continuing to immerse himself in the lives of those with “unshakable faith” to discover what gives them that faith, and wondering if there is more to life than being a semi-professional writer/comedian.

First up, Shaun travels to Salt Lake City to live, eat and pray with the Mormons before heading off with young missionaries to the jungles of the South Pacific. He then ventures to the Deserts of Utah to break bread with breakaway polygamists.

In Faith Healers (January 25th), Shaun immerses himself deep in the back blocks of Brazil, in the community of world famous medium and psychic spirit healer John of God for a chance to commune with the dead. Here Catholicism is intertwined with a belief in supernatural miracles, mediums and the afterlife.

Finally, Shaun wonders if Armageddon really is nigh (February 1st) and how to physically and spiritually prepare for the Apocalypse. Heading to America he undergoes biblical combat training with Doomsday Preppers  and explores the world of TV evangelism with Born Again Christian fundamentalists. On a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he stands where Jesus is prophesied to return, before finally retreating to the Greek Island of Patmos where the Book of Revelation was scribed.

You can watch the first episode, Gods, Gurus and Ganges, on Vimeo.

Thanks to Artemis International for the information.

Talkin’ ‘Bout Rumours

Shaun, Stuart and a BananaEven since Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation finished in 2012, there have been rumours of the return of the successful show, especially given its flexible and original format.

The Australian has re-opened the rumours, saying ITV are shopping the show around the TV networks, with Channel Nine a likely destination. Interestingly, “sources” say Shaun is a likely host, but isn’t locked in yet.

Shaun himself has said that for him and the cast, the show was done, so not sure if this will develop further than a rumour….

Seeing The Odd Couple

The Odd Couple logoI had the pleasure of seeing MTCs production of The Odd Couple, starring my favourite odd couple, Shaun and Francis.

I’d seen the female version of The Odd Couple before, so had an understanding of the plot, but seeing the characters again highlighted both the differences and similarities.

MTC don’t do anything by halves, so the set was absolutely amazing – no wobbling walls here. Even for the 60’s, it was one hell of an apartment for a bachelor, or a couple of bachelors, in New York.

Despite the 60’s setting, it didn’t feel overly dated, apart from a few lines which wouldn’t cut mustard today. The wives throwing out their husbands was probably ahead of its time, actually.

Shaun’s Felix is a bit camp, a bit slapstick, a bit Christopher Walken in his American accent, but lots of fun. Francis’s acting chops were on display and he played Oscar with probably the right amount of anger and frustration. There were some brilliant scenes between them; chasing each other through the apartment and passive aggressively arguing over the cleanliness of the place were my favourites. As Felix’s wife’s name is Frances, his slips of the tongue referring to Oscar (ie. Francis) as Frances had a nice double meeting.

The whole cast were amazing, and I got the chance to gush at Michala Banas, David Paterson and Grant Piro after the show – all of whom were lovely. Not to mention Francis and Shaun, who always are.

I’d love to see Shaun and Francis in a comedy revue, as I think Shaun suits that better (thinking of Good Evening with Stephen Curry), but I really enjoyed the production and it felt as fun to watch as it might have been for the actors (Shaun having made Michala corpse – for the first time, apparently – when we saw it).

odd-couple-signatures

Stairway to Heaven to air in January 2017

Shaun ponders the meaning of lifeShaun’s “Stairway to Heaven” series, which began with a single episode in 2014, will continue with a 3 part series in January on SBS.

As previously confirmed, Shaun is continuing on his quest for spiritual enlightenment, the meaning of life and finding out what drives people who have unshakable faith.

It’s a different kind of show for Shaun, who rather than taking a wry approach, is taking the journey and encounters very personally.

He will be looking at Mormonism in Salt Lake City, Spiritualism in Brazil, and Christian Fundamentalism in Texas. Previously he explored Hinduism in India.

Shaun did let us know that through this series, he does find some answers that bring about a conclusion to his quest.

The specials start 8:30pm Wednesday January 18th 2017 on SBS. Hopefully, the original special will be re-aired prior to the new ones.

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…

..to 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!