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Micallef Tonight (2003)
In the glut of Aussie tonight shows, Micallef shines. While Rove Live panders to the masses with its 'nice' humour, all likeability and no edge, Micallef Tonight takes the genre, tears it into pieces and satirises it. It is a parody while still being a significant contribution to the tonight show stable.
While Rove seems to have been watching too many tapes of Conan O'Brien recently (to the point of Rove blatantly copying his cat hisses, "I'm cool baby's" and camera sparring), Micallef has obviously seen Conan and allowed him to influence his show much more indirectly. As a result (like O'Brien) Micallef includes sketches in his show - slotting them between guests and sometimes even during interviews. He has embraced O'Brien's sense of the visual in his comedy (this is TV, after all) - so expect to see many more cartoons, puppets and clay-mation. Like O'Brien, rather than see the real world and pass comment on that (like Letterman does so brilliantly), Micallef creates his own comic world and cuts loose within that. And at last we see a live Australian TV show that has edge - and has the bravery to put their plums on the line and say 'we're now going to commit to this sketch and laugh if you want, but we don't care.' Saturday Night Live, Conan O'Brien and Letterman have the same philosophy.
I don't understand all these allusions people are making between Shaun's High Horse and '...what the?'. They're both completely different. Let's get one thing straight - all observational humour comes from the same basic premise - 'what's the deal with that?, did you ever notice this/that, etc...different comedians say it differently obviously. Then they riff off their thoughts on why something is so absurd (Seinfeld - parakeets flying into mirrors, Jimeoin - thongs, Micallef - rapid acting Panadol). It can take on many guises - The Late Show (D-Gen) had 'What's All That About' with Tony and Mick, who both later did their radio show with segments called 'Please explain', 'Cocobananas' (ie - that makes me cocobananas) and 'nutbags' (what a nutbag). All of this material could come under the same heading but is presented differently.
Anyway - 'what the...' is NOT observational humour - it's 'Phunny Photos' from Hey Hey It's Saturday, with a few misspellings thrown in for good measure. But that's how you win Gold Logies, apparently. Be nice - don't offend anyone or try anything different so middle Australia will like you. Rove's now in fine company with his other banal friends, Daryl Somers and Bert Newton. Rove Live jumped the shark in the first episode, but I thought the episode in which he interviewed Heidi Fleiss dragged it down to a new level. Tacky. Could you imagine any other tonight show host doing that - Leno, Letterman, O'Brien? It doesn't exactly reek of class to me.
I loved Micallef Tonight - a few dead spots but it showed real spirit and creativity and that's what counts for a show to have legs. Francis Greenslade is still a ham though. Even on the old show. Not funny.
Rove Live is Rove Dead. Micallef: 9/10.