Our Interview with Shaun: Part 1

To celebrate one year of this very website being in existence, we plucked up the courage to ask Mr Shaun Micallef Esq if he would answer some questions from his fans. Delightfully, he agreed – and the rest, as they say, is a blog post…

Thank you Shaun for taking the time to answer some questions from your fans.

Thanks Stuart. And thanks for running the site.

First – the serious questions

You’ve been successful at TV, radio, film, stage, writing (books and screenplays) – what have you enjoyed doing the most or are most keen to do in the future?

I think I’m a TV comedian first and foremost; I’m most at home there because it uses all the things I can do comedy-wise (writing, producing, acting, presenting – even a little directing).

Radio I found difficult because of the commercial expectations – not in terms of results so much, because TV is also ratings driven, but in terms of the structure and conventions of on-air presentation. But it gave me a chance to do some interesting writing and voice work as well is loosening me up a bit and adlibbing more – this, in turn, helped me with Thank God You’re Here and, ultimately, the show I’m doing now.

Stage is important because it’s a connection with a real audience (studio audiences are not quite the same as they’ve been primed – with a stage audience, you have to truly earn the response you get). Any comic timing I have is because I did University Revue and cabaret. I try and make sure I do something on stage every now and then so that whatever skills I have don’t get flabby.

Film I haven’t done a lot of – and when I have, it’s been only as an actor. I’m still learning and haven’t quite got the hang of it yet.

Writing is a hard slog (well, it is for me) but I find it that because I enjoy performing my own stuff most of all, I must do it. There’s also a special satisfaction that I get when I get a laugh for a joke that I have not only performed, but written.

I also enjoy collaborating (usually as a performer) in other people’s projects.

Good Evening was such a brilliant show. Would you consider returning to the stage, and would you want to do your own material? (Asked by Sia and Beth)

Yes, definitely. I few years ago I returned to the stage (with Glynn Nicholas) and did some shows in Perth and Adelaide. It was my own stuff (and a mime piece co-developed with Glynn) and it worked very well. The pieces I did were old pieces from The Micallef Program, Full Frontal and a couple of pieces back from my days in University revue. Only the mime piece was new. Then I tried a show called Boeing Boeing, an old French farce. I enjoyed doing it but it wasn’t quite right, so I made sure the next show I did would be sketch comedy – which is what I think I do best. Cook and Moore’s material is the best sketch material you can get, in my view. The next stage show I do will be my own material.

Recently, plans were revealed for you to pilot a variety show for Channel 10. Can you share any of your hopes or plans for this show?

I spoke too soon. Unfortunately this show is now not going to happen.

Have you considered writing with Gary McCaffrie and Michael Ward again – potentially for your new show? (Asked by PicklePepperPiper)

Gary and Michael both write for TAYG. They were going to write on the variety show. If they’re keen, they will be working on whatever it is I do after TAYG.

We’ve delighted in seeing more of the absurd on TAYG – has this been a conscious move by yourself?

Not conscious, but inevitable. As I got more and more involved in the creation of the games, I think it has got more absurd. When the show started, my creative contribution was the transitional stuff. There was a sense that I was having to ‘cope’ with the conventions of a celebrity panel show. We played on that; I was a reluctant émigré from ABC/SBS to the world of commercial frippery. But we tired of that pretty quickly – and I think the audience would have too if we’d kept it up.  As time has gone by, the show has become more and more ‘my own’. The game producers are thinking up odd things and I’ve learned more about how a celebrity panel show works.

What’s been your weirdest fan experience? (Asked by Julie)

I was once approached by a Scandanavian couple who said they enjoyed watching Welcher and Welcher back home in Finland.

What are your thoughts on your non-commercially available work (such as Newstopia, Vega broadcasts) being shared by fans, in the same spirit as the old comedy albums? (Asked by Jennifer)

I don’t think Newstopia will ever be released on DVD, which is a pity because I think it’s my best work. I’m more than happy for people to share what they’ve got.

Do you have any current plans for more DVD releases, such as Newstopia? (Asked by Robert)

Fremantle Media (who own the rights to Newstopia) have told me they don’t want to release it on DVD. I don’t think it’s financially worth their while. If they changed their mind, I’d be a little reluctant to let it go out in an unedited form; I think a lot of it wouldn’t make any sense now (because so much of the material was topical) so I’d want to do a job on it as I did with Micallef Tonight. But that costs money (edit suites, etc) and that makes it unappealing business-wise. That’s why Welcher and Welcher doesn’t have a commentary track.

Personally, I never really wanted anything to come out on DVD (except maybe the Micallef Program). Full Frontal was not, in my view, good enough and Newstopia and Micallef Tonight were, as I said, too of the moment. Welcher and Welcher I was never sure about.

My involvement with some of the DVD releases has been more to do with ‘damage control than anything else’. I hate the idea of being the keeper of my own flame. Better to forget the past and get excited about the next thing.

What are your thoughts on comedy/variety TV in the UK compared to Australia? (Asked by Luke)

I think the UK audience is so big that a cult act can do quite well over there. Over here it’s a bit harder.

I must admit I don’t watch a lot of comedy anymore. I’m too threatened by it if it’s funny and annoyed by it if it isn’t.

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion, or part 2 as it’s also called!

Busy, busy, busy

It’s certainly a busy schedule for Shaun at the moment. Good Evening wraps up in Brisbane on Sunday, before he flies down to Melbourne for an event promoting his book, Preincarnate (which I am attending – woo!).

I’m sure he’ll take a couple of days off before heading to Perth for a (final?) short run of Good Evening. No wonder we won’t get another New Year’s special this year!

Good Evening heads to Brisbane

Sydney and Melbourne have had the pleasure of seeing Shaun Micallef and Stephen Curry perform “Good Evening”; now it is Brisbane’s turn!

Good Evening is the sketches of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, performed on stage in the traditional comedy revue style. Pete and Dud inspired a generation of comedians, including Monty Python,  Rowan Atkinson and of course, Shaun.

The show is on at the Brisbane Powerhouse from the November 3rd to 21st 2010. Tickets are on sale from 23rd August.

I saw the show during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and thought it was wonderful; from the still-fresh material to the superb performance. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you do! I also recommend the program too (they are always slightly overpriced) – plenty of background information on Pete and Dud and the performers.

Thanks to Lucy for the heads-up!