Latest on “The President’s Desk”

Shaun and Francis at The Willy Lit FestDespite that fact that it won’t be available until October 6th, there’s been a bit more information recently on Shaun’s next book “The President’s Desk”. During a conversation last week, Shaun was kind enough to share some information about it with me, as well as appearing with Francis on stage at the Williamstown Literary Festival to delight the audience with a reading.

Shaun says it’s a book you can “dip-into”, with each chapter revolving around different American Presidents, with the desk being a central theme. He pointed out that just like people now days can watch a film in any order (with the power of time-shifted TV), so too can you read this book in any order. It’s a bit like a history book, with “some bits made up” to be more interesting.

A lot of the ideas in the book seem to have been hanging around for a while, with parts of the book having been “played out” with Kim Gyngell at the Festival 2 years ago, as well as some of it being published as part of Tony Martin’s former website.

Shaun prefers to only shop a book to publishers when it’s complete, for fear of promising something he later feels is a bit rubbish.

The real President’s Desk: The “Resolute” Desk

At the Willy Lit Fest, he read a part of the book pertaining to the last voyage of the HMS Resolute  (which later became the Resolute Desk, used by the President in the Oval Office) and the crew’s penchant for dugongs (or is that mermaids?). Francis countered with an excerpt from the chapter on Reagan, which seemed to be Shaun’s soapbox for how he felt about actors as people (ie. selling their whoredom)!

He didn’t have a copy of the finished book to show at the Fest (it’s being printed overseas), but he did produce a mini-replica, which was presented to the Hill family, who’d travelled from Newcastle to be in Williamstown!

The book also has a glossary of pro-nouns and a biography of Shawn Micallef (ie. the Canadian one who writes about architecture and spaces).

All in all, we can’t wait for October!

Credit where it’s due

You know that behind every great host and every great show, there’s a great cast and crew.

For season 3, Mad As Hell squeezed every moment out of its 28 minute timeslot, which meant that we never got to see the credit list – something we completionists hate!

And since the ABC failed to add it to their new, but less informative, website, here it is for you… The Mad As Hell Season 3 Credits:

Presented ByCredits from Mad As Hell





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Poof, you’re four!

You're Four! CardWell that’s a bit rude, but half true – indeed, this website has turned 4 years old!

For any web-related thing to last and continue to be updated for more than 8 weeks is pretty extraordinary, so thanks to your support over the past 4 years and of course thanks to Shaun, for giving us things to write about!

(Unfortunately, we never got our “Hey dickhead, you’re 3!” card last year.)

Talkin’ ‘Bout iTunes

Stuart the Meerkat says 'Wrong'The show that really reminded the mainstream audience on how good Shaun really is might be in the rear-view mirror, but that doesn’t mean it’s forgotten. Seasons 2 to 4 of Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation are available to purchase through iTunes (albeit at a cost of AU$136 for all 54 episodes).

Also on iTunes is Mad As Hell Season 1 and Season 3 (but not Season 2) and Shaun’s Who Do You Think You Are episode. His ‘Quiet Word’ with Tony Martin is also noticeably absent.

Interview with Francis

Francis Greenslade with David M Green

David M Green, long-time Shaun fan and now a writer in the Mad As Hell team, got to talk to Francis Greenslade last year. You can listen to the whole thing on David’s website or iTunes, but here’s some things we learnt (in relation to Shaun):

Francis first saw Shaun on stage, doing a sketch called “The Incredible Low-Fat Ice Coffee Carton”. Both being members of the Adelaide University Footlights, they would often arrive nearly an hour and a half before rehearsal, just waiting for the doors to open.

It was Shaun and Gary who got Francis onto TV, specifically Full Frontal, and did so by getting him in as an extra for a sketch they had written.

He comments that The Micallef Program was “a joy” to work on, and says there hasn’t been a more seemless and hysterical sketch comedy show in Australia. Meat Boy is his favourite sketch. Everything was written before filming began, allowing plenty of time for the cast to prepare (especially when compared to Mad As Hell).

They also talk about one of the sketches filmed for Season 2 of Mad As Hell, which never went to our screens, called ‘Blather’. The question remains if this, and other unaired material for the show, will ever be released.

Top 11 Mad As Hell Season 3 Moments

Alas, we’ve reached the end of another season of Mad As Hell, one which many have described as the best yet.

I had to give up the recaps after episode 1, mostly because they were taking 2+ hours per episode and it doesn’t pay the bills. So instead, here’s my list of the Top 11 Mad As Hell moments from Season 3:

Mad As Hell S3Ep4: Shaun gets served11. The battle with the Graphics Department
Shaun’s ongoing “conflict” with the Graphics department continued, as they continued to use whatever Google Image looked closest to whomever Shaun was talking about. He waited patiently in Episode 7 for every image resembling Arthur Sinodinos to scroll through, and after Bronwyn Bishop was confused with Ursula from The Little Mermaid (Ep 8), he asked “Am I going to have to come up there?”.

But it was after a clip of Andrew O’Keefe talking about Qantas (Ep 4) that he remarked “Why on earth do they let some ex-Game Show host report on the news?”, only to be presented with a picture of himself promoting Talkin’ Bout Your Generation.

10. Abbott speak
It began with Shaun comparing his speed saying “We are more than happy to take the shackles off Qantas” to Tony Abbott, and became a perfect deconstruction of exactly how politicians are now speaking to the media and the people that vote for them. Video

9. Shaun punishes advertising guru Flornoy Quimbie
Flornoy (Tosh) visited Mad As Hell a few times during the season, and took immense pleasure in sharing his advertising accomplishments, including the Coles “Down-Down” ads (which got him repeatedly punched to the face), the Budget Direct ads (which got him a cricket bat to the head) and the AAMI “Rhonda and Kutut” ads (which Shaun didn’t mind). The simulated violence was a victory for everyone subjected to these inane ads.

Mad As Hell S3E1: Vice Admiral Bobo Gargle8. Bobo Gargle explains Operation Sovereign Borders
The biggest news story at the beginning of the series was Operation Sovereign Borders, and only Bobo Gargle could “explain” the navy’s position on it. It was beautifully intertwined throughout the first episode, with additional appearances throughout the series, plus a visit or two from… The Kraken!

Mad As Hell S3Ep6: The Monuments Men7. Recreating The Monuments Men
The cold opening for the sixth episode took the whole cast and combined the recent Biennale of Sydney controversies with the most recent George Clooney movie and a classic pythonesque tone: “There is no fucking punch line”.

Mad As Hell S3Ep4: William Wonka6. William Wonka visits
The Fiona Nash food rating website conflict of interest scandal prompted “Department of Health Adviser” William Wonka to appear as a guest, “explaining” there was no conflict of interest with a helpful video, followed by a homage to the 1971 movie. Video

5. Guest Stars
The promotions for the fictitious series “Paper Giants: The Trading Post” got a number of runs through the series, and like the real dramatisations of  Kerry Packer, featured a different actor portraying the man each time: Stephen Curry, Vince Colosimo and Claudia Karvan.

In the final episode, Maggie Bathysphere’s sports team featured an all star cameo crew: Tony Martin, Glenn Robbins and Alex Dyson.

4. The Musical Finale
Shaun’s musical performances are always a joy, and singing Devo’s  “Beautiful World” was a perfect end to the series. Video

Mad As Hell Series 3: Union official Steve McCloud3. Shaun gets called a “Jon Stewart wannabe”
Union official Steve McCloud visited Shaun again to talk about union corruption, and used the opportunity to step up the veiled threats again “Shane”: “If I was some perfumed, pedantic, Logie rattling, smug-arse Jon Stewart wannabe, I’d think very carefully about who I called intimidating.” Of course, Shaun’s long term ambition for Mad As Hell was for it to resemble Jon’s successful The Daily Show. Video

Let It Be / Shaun2. The Beatles 50 Years Down Under
While they’re unable to use real products or companies as on Newstopia, the fake promotions on Mad As Hell still do a brilliant job of lampooning the ABC’s own programming. So the one in Episode 3 based on the repeated formula of playing black and white footage intercut with interview footage of the subjects talking about the experience, namely The Beatles, would have been funny enough. Throw twelve seconds of Shaun dressed as each of the Fab Four, and you’ve made one of the highlights of the series.

Mad As Hell S3Ep10: Swimming pools1. Swimming pools become a unit of measurement
It was in Episode 3 that Shaun noticed the media’s love for comparing the amount of one thing with the amount of another random thing, usually swimming pools, but also MCGs and Eureka Towers. From the volume of tweets and emails, this captured everyone’s imagination, and the use of swimming pools as a unit of measurement was then referred to frequently throughout the series.

No Logies, but a Molkie

Shaun winning a Logie in 2002As previously reported, when all of the networks had to nominate their stars for the TV Week Logie “Most Popular” awards this year, Shaun was forgotten by both the ABC (for Mad As) and Channel Ten (for Mr & Mrs Murder), so became ineligible for voting by us, the loyal viewers.

To add insult to injury, neither Shaun or Mad As Hell were nominated in the “Most Outstanding” category, which is industry voted, although this is partly because comedy falls under the “Light Entertainment” category, so Mad As Hell was in competition with shows like The Voice. So basically, unless Shaun is a presenter – don’t bother with the Logies this year.

However, Shaun did win the Gold Molkie – an award given out by the readers/visitors to Molks TV Talk, one of the most popular Australian TV blog sites. It was Shaun’s third win in 3 years, and with 42% of the vote – a very convincing one. Mad As Hell also won “Best In Show”, a testament to the quality of the show, especially this season.

Top 11 Reccurring Mad As Hell Characters

Top Ten lists are so cliché… and also trademarked. So here’s a Top Eleven list of the best reoccurring characters we’ve seen on Mad As Hell:

Mad As Hell Ep6: Xanthe reports

11. Xanthe Kalamazoo (Veronica, Roz, Emily)
Mad As’s in-house reporter and interviewer during the first season, Xanthe was a serious reporter who asked the tough questions like “What do people who aren’t in the know think?”. Her very recognisable vintage style, name and introduction made up for her changing face – all three actresses on the show took their turns during Xanthe’s four appearances. Unfortunately, we never saw Tosh take up the role. Video

Mad As Hell Ep9: Lionel!10. Lionel (Stephen)
Lionel originated as a non-speaking background character, but during some of the “Top of the Vox Pops” segments which appeared during the first season, got his chance to share his “views”, while also inadvertently revealing his excessive toilet paper requirements. After this character, Stephen (one of the writers) soon became a full-time on-screen cast member.

Mad As Hell S2Ep1 - Debt Clock9. Jennifred Stoles – Economics Reporter (Veronica)
Introduced in the second season, Jennifred is a bubbly, young reporter, who is very knowledgeable on economics but curiously hasn’t completed her VCE (or as Shaun refers to it, her “matric(ulation)”) and still gets lifts home with her mum. The awkward relationship between her and Shaun due to their generation gap always creates some funny moments after she completes her “Mad As Economics” report. Video

8. Casper Jonquil – Talkback Caller (Tosh)
Straight from AM radio, Casper can complain about any topic, and most of the time will. What starts as an answer-come-complain to Shaun’s question will easily drift into a mix of real and nonsense issues, in the spirit of the Monty Python Travel Agent sketch. All we know is he’s not happy, especially about the lack of privacy his neighbours have while he watches through their window. Video

Mad As Hell: Ian Orbspider proving lightning can strike twice7. Ian Orbspider – Science Person (Francis)
With some obvious inspiration from Dr Karl, Ian is an overly enthusiastic science boffin who is usually responsible for debunking metaphors. He also attracts a lot of bad luck, from falling pianos to lightning strikes, although lately Shaun has been assisting him to tempt fate in the form of a lightning rod.  Video

Mad As Hell Ep7: Gay March6. Gay March – Royal Watcher (Roz)
It was all things UK during the first and second seasons, as London held the Olympics, the Queen had her jubilee and general British things happened, so Royal Watcher Gay March, a stereotypical devout citizen, kept Shaun up to date in her affected, “endearing” manner.  Video

Mad As Hell S2Ep8: Vomitoria5. Vomitoria Catchment – Blogger (Roz)
A right-wing blogger in the style of Miranda Devine, Vomitoria brought some *balance* to the debate throughout the second season in the lead up to the 2012 Federal Election, along with her snarky wit, for which usually she was the only one laughing (or sniggering) to. She dropped by recently in her new role as Press Secretary to the PM, just to rub it in.  Video

Mad As Hell S3E1: Sport with Maggie

4. Maggie Bathysphere – Sports Reporter (Emily)
Maggie and her revolving ABC sports team colleagues have been consistent on Mad As Hell throughout all three seasons, initially appearing in the commentary box at the London Olympics, before moving to Fisht Stadium Sochi (two years early) and now to Brazil ahead of the FIFA World Cup. Maggie’s a true Aussie with her love of sport, particularly the female athletes, and is responsible for explaining the recent wins, losses and draws to sport-agnostic Shaun. Video

Mad As Hell Ep8: The Kraken3. Vice Rear Cabin Boy Bobo Gargle (Francis)
Bobo first appeared as a Petty Officer to explain the  feasibility of the “turn back the boats” policy (before it was actual policy) and has since led his *credibility* to every “on-water” matter since, certainly providing answers as ridiculous as the context. Video

and The Kraken – Sea monster (Michael)
Usually called out by Bobo Gargle, The Kraken is usually RELEASED to the tune of Hey Mickey – it’s Michael Ward’s (one of the writers’) time to shine.

2. Steve McCloud – Union Official (Francis)
There’s very few who have managed to make Shaun quake in his seat, but Steve’s ability to intimidate and impress his will on people without actually saying it directly is undoubted. His thinly veiled threats towards an “over-educated snow-topped TV nancy boy” put Shaun and his questions in their place, quashing any Mad As Hell investigation into union activity. After his initial appearance, Steve returned on the back of the recent union corruption inquiries. Video

Mad As Hell Ep6: Bill's $2 design1. William Duthie – Elder with Wisdom (Shaun)
Shaun in character is always a highlight, and Bill is someone who has had plenty of life experiences, but barely remembers any of them correctly. In fact, put all of his experiences together and he’s lived a few extra lifetimes: working at the mint, running the parliamentary gift shop, being an engineer on the Parkes Radio Telescope amongst them. He’s everything we love about Shaun and his characters. Video

Special mention to Chloris Webbler, Undersecretary of Friends of the ABC, who just missed out, despite her many appearances – including in a Mad As Hypothetical and as a resident of Sponge.

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