When I first tuned into "Comedy Inc.", I wasn't sure what to expect. A re-hash of "Fast Forward"? (Michael Veitch is one of Comedy Inc's writers). Maybe a re-make of "The Comedy Company"? Or (shudder) something akin to it's contemporary rival "Skithouse"? What I found was a show that hit the mark, made pointed comment on current issues and had me rolling in the aisles (or at least off the couch) with mirth.
I missed the first two episodes (which I understand was probably a good thing, as the show took its time to find its stride), but episode number three got me hooked from the first sketch. The main cast (Genevieve, Paul, Mandy, Ben, Emily and Jim) are brilliant, all relative unknowns, but with such great timing and comic talent that you can't help but enjoy their work and become a fan. The team of writers are great, with some really good ideas that truly deliver. Some of the sketches aren't my cup of tea, but let's face it folks - they are trying to fill a whole hour every week! You can't expect pure gold every minute of air time!
The previous comments about canned laughter is an understandable assumption (I mean how many sitcoms have we watched that use exactly that technique?), but its a misconception. I finally got tickets to go to the live taping of the show, which happens every week (one of the advantages of living in Melbourne!), and know that they use the live audience laughter, not only in the live sketches, but also in the pre-recorded ones as well. How do I know? Because, between the live sketch set-ups, they showed us the tapes of the sketches filmed during that week at various other locations, with the warning that the microphones on the audience were live to record our response. Needless to say, it was even funnier watching the cast work in front of a live audience, and by the time the evening was over, my admiration for their professionalism and ability was even greater (if that was possible).
All up, this show offers something for everyone's sense of humour. I watch it with my flat-mate (who is hard pushed to laugh at anything) and even he manages to chuckle at it occasionally. Sometimes it's pointedly cynical - American Newscaster: "There was alarm today at the Whitehouse when a foreign object was found lodged in the seat of President Bush's trousers. It was later discovered to be the Australian Prime Minister, Mr John . somebody", sometimes just plain silly - Nathan (from High 5) singing the "Wibble Wibble" song, other times just gross (arms being cut off, etc), occasionally its very classy - Catherine Zeta Jones singing "All That Cash" (a parody on "All That Jazz"), but at all times it's a good way to escape into an alternate reality that will give you some good laughs along the way.
Yes, they parody existing people, but there are also some new characters as well. The Sports Commentator Noofa Murphy had me laughing so hard it hurt, and the three characters on the youth show "The Big Loud" were hysterical (which I saw on the night I went to the studio taping). I expect that this show will only get better and better as time goes on, and I hope that Channel 9 run with it for another season, and another and another. We all need the laughs.
As their slogan says: "Be scared . nothing's sacred". In my opinion, Comedy Inc. is aptly titled and executed, and exactly what Australian comedy should be.
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