As a male observer I admit to being somewhat wary of reviewing Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am. What if some of the gags went over my XY chromosome head?
ABC’s new sketch show is written and directed by its stars Sarah Bishop, Greta Jackson and Adele Vuko. Known for their online videos such as ‘Activewear’ the trio had a pilot in the Fresh Blood initiative, and now have a 6 episode series. With Australia having a strong history of female comedy teams (a trail blazed by Riley, Turner, Szubanski & Downey), the prospects for a next gen troupe is high.
These gals are similarly anarchic, skewering female tropes with a sometimes-absurdist twist. Males may want to duck for cover when these sketches unleash, if they are not prepared to laugh at themselves.
Things get underway with fallible super heroes Amazon, Scarlet Assassin and Feline in a Matrix-like sketch that appears to have been filmed on the roof of ABC Ultimo. From there we are whisked away to the Ladies-Only talk of the powder room, ahead of a US sitcom parody in which the three masquerade as misogynistic roommates who look like they have just stepped out of a Chuck Lorre comedy.
The first episode also includes a female Jesus flirting with Roman Centurions, an irate wellness blogger (who is a mentor to an inmate outreach program), botoxed South African women Shani & Nani, and Matt Okine guest starring as “Australia’s first male police officer” (prepare for workplace harassment in the all-female force).
“Have you actually ever been to a real crime scene or have you just seen them on your Xbox?”
Other guest stars in the first episode include Darren Gilshenan and Kate Fitzpatrick.
Expect to see them tackle the world of Barbie, gender pay imbalances, and even menstruation. Yep, all bets are off.
Throughout it all Sarah Bishop, Greta Jackson and Adele Vuko assume an array of characters and costumes -Jackson is the one to watch here.
Not all of the gags work, but there is surely creative promise and the ‘grab-bag’ approach to sketch means we reset everything with each new scene. While the sitcom parody began to drag in its second outing, others such as “Smoke Bomb Girl” were delightfully, inexplicably brief, refusing to subscribe to logic.
The production design was also particularly good here, afforded ample detail.
It’s important to let comedians find their voice and ABC should be commended for nurturing new acts, and even giving them a safety net when not every sketch hits a mark. Even Something Stupid, the short-lived Seven series, spawned the iconic Kath and Kim.
Whether Bishop, Jackson and Vuko have such talent within them remains to be seen, but by the same token, they should also be allowed to navigate their own path, own it, detour it, excavate it, redesign it, sell it or throw a smoke bomb and leave the men to argue over it.
In just under 30 minutes they pretty much attempt most of that.
Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am airs 9:30pm Thursday on ABC2.