More Tales from the Forest

Happily Ever Afterwards book cover

A few years ago, Shaun penned a book aimed at early-teenage kids (or “tweens” as some people say), based on the way he used to twist his telling of fairytales to his kids when they were younger. It was smart and fun, and a little less mind-bending than some of Shaun’s other books.

Now, Tales from a Tall Forest has a sequel: Happily Ever Afterwards

The Queen of Tancred and her royal retinue are on a mission: to ensure all the citizens of Tancred are happy. But that’s a lot harder than it sounds – especially when the Happiness Tour accidentally stumbles into the neighbouring region of Hamelin. Oops. Soon, Queen Mathilde smells a rat. A whole kingdom of them, in fact … because Hamelin has been overrun with rodents. Why is a rat on the throne? Where are all of Hamelin’s children?

Like the previous book, it’s been illustrated throughout, but by a different illustrator. It is due to be released September 29th, and can be pre-ordered online. Sadly, with the current COVID situation, it doesn’t look like we’ll see any book signings.

Lucky 13 for Mad As Hell!

The thirteenth series of Mad As Hell began last Wednesday – and are we very glad for that! It’s the ninth year for the show, and we’re expecting 12 episodes. Six! Other Random Numbers!

All the cast has returned, so we can just crack on an enjoy it. 

It’s back again without an audience due to COVID restrictions – but it nearly had one… New restrictions were introduced by the Victorian government at 6pm, just 30 minutes before the first episode was about to be taped WITH an audience. It would have been a huge letdown for that audience, but strangely enough, the lack of audience hasn’t really taken away from the show in the last season and a bit… it might be a bit of a shock when those laughs return.

Usual time slot of 8:30pm Wednesdays, or watch on iView. You may need a login now to watch online (as sent up by Tosh’s parody of Charlie Pickering’s ad about it in episode one of season 13).

Shaun on this season of Mad As

With season 10 of Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell wrapping up, I spoke to Shaun a few weeks ago about how it was going and what lies ahead for the future.

Ten seasons and a 100+ episodes – are you still enjoying Mad As Hell and would you do another 10?
I always talk to Gary (McCaffrie) immediately afterwards, and now he’s in Tasmania so I just ring him; he watches a feed from the studio. He just moved there, so is writing from home. He used to work in the office next to me, but it doesn’t feel much different, we might miss the lunch. Because he’s not driving any more, he’s working – we get another three sketches out of him! As long as he wants to do (Mad As Hell), I’m pretty happy doing it. As he said to me last year, “this is the perfect show for us”, which is no surprise because it was constructed by us. It’s pretty good, and I can’t think that in my remaining life in television, we’ll find something that is better. As long as they want it, and as long as Gary wants to do it… If the cast and crew wanted to go off and do their own thing, as they do from time to time, we’re able to bring new people in, and we’ve had Christie (Wheelan-Browne) hit the ground running. And that’s good, because everyone steps up with someone new there. There will come a time when the audience say “that’s enough, let’s not hear from someone who’s 60 years old.” (“Don’t be like that!” I replied)

There have been a few cast changes this season: you mentioned Christie, plus Roz has departed and Francis has been in and out.
Francis did the first live night, and he did some later ones, but he otherwise hasn’t been available because of the play he’s been in. But he has made himself available to do some field pieces. If you didn’t look too closely, you wouldn’t be able to tell. Just as Roz being absent for the latter part of the season. Roz isn’t going to come back, she’s decided it’s time to take advantage of some new opportunities which she deserves. It’s perfectly understandable she wants to flex her dramatic muscles. I do it myself, go off and do a few things between seasons. You’ll see Laurence (Boxhall) appearing in the Curiosity Cul-de-sac sketches. He’s in the play with Francis, so when I saw the show, I caught up with Laurence and I wrote up a little piece for him.

Christie you had worked with in The Odd Couple, how did you meet Michelle (Brazier)?
I was seeing some Aunty Donna stuff, and she had featured a bit in their stuff, and I noticed how good she was. Then she happened to be doing a show at the Comedy Festival called QANDA (a send up of Q&A) with Emily, and it all seemed to work as a sort of audition. We asked if she was interested, and she was, and she also hit the ground running. She had to go away for Edinburgh fringe, but in the last 2 weeks we have everyone, so it will be an old-school full-sized cast.

Are you hopeful the show will be back next year?
Always hopeful, but we’ve had an indication – it will be back.

And will you be able to bring all the cast along?
I think everyone is up for it.

25 years in one book

Shaun’s latest book has hit the shelves: Mad As Hell And Back, an anthology of sketches from Full Frontal, The Micallef P(r)ogram(me), Newstopia and, of course, Mad As Hell.

It’s co-written with Shaun’s writing partner Gary McCaffrie, and the two introduce each section of the book (grouped by program) with a story about how they got to that point, sparing back and forth.

I was very happy to get my hands on my copy, it’s a celebration of some of Shaun and Gary’s best sketches in 370 pages. Sure it’s really for die-hard fans, but why would you want to be anything else?

Double the Shaun for one night only

Wednesday is shaping as a double Shaun night, with the finale of series 2 (or 6, depending how you count) of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation on Channel 9 at 7:30pm, then straight over to the ABC at 8:30pm (ish) for the start of series 10 of Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell.

On TAYG, we’re getting the first fancy dress theme since the show moved to Channel 9. And Mad As Hell, expect “same government, fresh hell”… but also, two new cast members: Christie Whelan Browne and Michelle Brasier will appear at different times during the season. It’s a healthy 13 episode season too.

Finally… time to be Mad As Hell again!

“This is an illness, take some time off till you can write a headline without a pun in it.”

While we have been very much enjoying the sheer absurdity of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation, we’re delighted that the place where Shaun really flexes his chops, Mad As Hell, is back in less than a month, Wednesday 26th June at 8:30pm on ABC.
And it’s Season 10. Freak me sideways!

Yes, the ABC missed an opportunity to let the show air during the federal election, but now that we know exactly who is running the asylum, you can expect some laser focused satire.. so that we can all yell “something, something, I’m not going to take it anymore!”

Feeling bookish

Did everyone finish reading through Shaun’s uncollected plays over summer? For those die hard fans, maybe you noticed:

– “The Great War and How it Got That Way” was originally featured as a cold open sketch in Mad As Hell

– “Visiting Rites” appeared as “(A Visit)” on Shaun’s His Generation album

– While most of the introductions were tongue-in-cheek, there was a very raw quality to the introduction of “Marx Will Be Deducted” which touched on his casting in the play Boeing Boeing

In other book talk, Shaun hinted recently that he’s working on another book, roughly based around the story of the Pied Piper. Tentatively titled “Rescuing Hamlin’s Children”, it’s aimed at the same readers who enjoyed Tales from a Tall Forest.

Talkin’ ‘Bout another round

TAYG will be back for 2019! After a come back last year on a new network, with new team captains (but thankfully the same host) Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation (MK2) will return to our screens for Series 2 later in the year. Filming is happening during February and March.

The quiz show battles celebrities from different generations against each other, with questions and physical challenges, to decide who is the greatest generation (of the week).

In the meantime, you can watch Series 1 online.

Mad again in 2019

The ABC announced their “upfronts” for 2019 (basically what they will air next year), and to avoid riots in the street (as well put by Oz Tumbleweeds), Mad As Hell will be back! Here’s the press release:

Shaun Micallef celebrates his 25th year in television with his 10th season of Mad as Hell. “It’s a bit like the frog in the saucepan of water,” says the comedian of working for the ABC. “If you turn up the heat, the frog doesn’t notice because he’s cold-blooded. Eventually the water’s boiling and the frog’s like ‘Hey, WTAF?’ and he explodes… Actually, it’s not a very good analogy.” Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell, Australia’s longest-running half-hour news satire program of that name returns in 2019.

According to Shaun, it will be back in July (presumably for one season only next year), just after the next federal election (and sadly not during the campaign it seems).

The team celebrated 100 episodes recently, and with tonight’s season finale, it puts the total count to 102. Congrats to everyone who makes Mad As Hell the best satirical show on Australian TV, if we do say so ourselves.

The Uncollected Plays of Shaun Micallef

At least they were uncollected…

Shaun has written a whole bunch of random plays into a new book! As he told News Breakfast, when he was first was approached by a publisher, he thought he’d go to his drawer of actual uncollected plays – but found they “were a bit rubbish”. So he penned some new ones, and here they are, on paper and bound in a hardback cover.

He talked to The Project about it recently.

Here you can see Shaun channel his inner playwright (specifically Samuel Beckett?) in this promo video:

Plus here’s a celebrity endorsement from one T Martin: