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!

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.