Chasing moving targets

Back after 18 months off air, Julian Morrow tells TV Tonight The Chaser no longer has John Howard or Anna Coren as comic relief.

19When The Chaser boys last went to air, Kevin Rudd was the incumbent PM by just two days. A lot has changed since then.

The Chaser grew up under John Howard,” says Julian Morrow. “We started back in 1999. The first TV show we did was the 2001 election. But we always did Prime Minister Howard gags and then we both bowed out at the same time.

“Unlike Mr. Howard we’ve been able to do the comeback with a new cast of characters which is really quite appealing to be honest, because the old Howard-Costello gags were getting a bit tired. Now we just have to change the name and do Costello-Turnball gags now.”

In 18 months their customary targets have all moved on. Anna Coren is no longer presenting Today Tonight, a frequent source of mirth for the ABC comedians.

“There does seem to have been a change of tack on Today Tonight‘s presenter mode. They’ve gone with the smiling, nice guy in Matthew White. That’s no great loss to us because we did kind of feel by the end of 2007 we’d done the current affair thing pretty comprehensively. When I say we I really only mean Chas. He was the one that did all the soul and mind-destroying research by watching all those programmes, without missing an episode. So he was very, very happy to draw the curtain on that one. But we’re not doing a current affairs segment this year. That’s probably a relief for all concerned.”

Including reporter Brian Seymour too?

“I don’t think Brian stays up at night worrying about The Chaser.”

Morrow suspects it’s probably their parents who do that instead. And possibly some sections of the ABC Legal Department.

“We try to do our things in the spirit of good fun and I reckon most people recognise that.”

Since making their mark on the small screen, the crew behind the Chaser have been dubbed contemporaries to Working Dog, whose success on The Late Show led to becoming a formidable production team. In the last 12 months the Chaser boys also produced Lawrence Leung: Choose Your Own Adventure. They steered his television series debut in much the same way that Andrew Denton fostered them for their CNNNN series.

“I wouldn’t for a second say we schooled Lawrence as attentively as Andrew did. Lawrence was an established performer comedian, whereas we’d only ever written in a newspaper , so we leant a lot more heavily on Andrew than Lawrence did on us. But I certainly like the idea of being involved in TV if not always as The Chaser and being on screen.

“One thing you can rely on The Chaser is that planning is not a forte of ours,” he says. “We’re kind of taking it gig by gig. We were really happy that the ABC was interested in Lawrence’s show and certainly from my perspective I really enjoyed in working on that deal and being involved in the creative process for it and then delivering it. And I’ve been happy with the way it’s been received.”

Morrow insists producing other work is not really part of any grand plan, so much as wanting to work on projects they find creatively engaging.

“I get the idea that people like Andrew and the Working Dog people are dictated by creative propositions rather than business propositions.

“If we did end up as Working Dog I’d be very happy with that. Their creative output is fantasic and they seem to do pretty good deals for themselves,” he says.

“But we only prefer to make comparisons that we come favourably out of!”

The Chaser’s War on Everything screens 9pm Wednesday on ABC1.

23 Responses

  1. Sorry boys, but you have lost me as a fan. The Cronulla segment was sadly just not funny. This club is for obvious and previously well documented reasons struggling, and if they fold, lots of people will lose their jobs. If I was a Cronulla official, I would press for a trespass charge to be laid.

  2. As a huge fan of the Chaser I was dissappointed with last night’s episode. It seemed like they were just trying to get publicity by offending people with the Vatican stunt, Jesus being mauled by a shark, masturbating footy players and asking terminally ill people for donations for a school rowing club. I wasn’t offended, but it just wasn’t funny (or clever). Sure it’ll get them headlines but where was all the biting satire and intelligent humour of past seasons?

  3. Gee so much hate for this show now. I loved it and laughed at a lot of the segments. They set the bar high in previous seasons, and if it doesn’t match previous standards, it is judged as crap.

  4. Dougal Longfoot – i agree. The same with the guys that did The Block and then went overseas. Come back and wonder why The Chopping Block and HomeMade aren’t working – time has moved on.

  5. Wow was that abysmal last night. Isn’t it interesting how a year off has made the Chaser seem completely passe. The same thing happened with “The Glass House”, it got stale. Time to go Chasers

  6. Its seems this year they came in fast with the skits, some were good others seemed forced and unfunny, Not the top notch political and social humour they usually have.

    The whole appeal was that the show was controversial yet relevant to the real world and not just a bunch of over the top (KKK Skit) college humour thrown together.

    Was really hoping for some favourites to return,

    Crazy Warehouse Guy
    What we Learned from A current affairs
    The Fixers
    Ad Road Test
    Pursuit Trivia and Mr Ten Questions
    Citizens’ Infringement Officer

    All classic Chaser segments, this first episode seemed to have been a whole show filled with the “filler” skits that went with the great segments and it did not come off well as clever and genuinely funny stuff.

    Hope it gets better, i know this is their first time back but they came on way too strong and it all seemed very silly.

  7. I honestly did not laugh once tonight. The guys come across as Yr 8 students. The Jesus footprints skit was silly – a big build up for no return, the stunt in Rome was childish and the US lawsuits was laboured. Taking the drunk girl to Cronulla leagues club missed the mark – the chaser guys were probably expecting security to kick them out, instead two delivery dock guys politely went along with the joke. Oh and one more thing – very difficult to get laughs from cancer jokes.

  8. Chaser’s was pretty good tonight, better than the overabundance of crime procedurals and reality/factual crap anyway. I felt it was missing some of the trademark wit of previous seasons and that they sometimes went for tasteless jokes a bit too much (yes, their humour has always been tasteless, but there’s usually a good portion of wit and political commentary to balance it out). All up, it was still a riot. Best parts IMO were them mocking Chk Chk Boom girl and the Cronulla Sharks. Good to have them back at any rate.

  9. I sure am going to miss “what have we learnt from current affairs this week”
    Although, they could be doing an international version of that with current affairs shows from other countries.

  10. I am dissapointed about the ACA and TT segment removed this year. I thought it worked really well.

    I must say I have to cross my fingers at this point because the show has been hit and miss for a while. When it hits its great like “Say Wattt!???” and The Chaser on Nine. But when it misses its painfull.

    A point, computer generated graphics are never funny. When you put them in a sketch on the streets amongst your shenanigans it makes the whole thing seem fake and unsatisfying.

    On ballance I see Laurences show as neither a failure or a success. It had some great elements but seamed too scripted and poorly acted at times. The writing gave some pretty predictable punchlines. I dont think thats the last we will see of the guy though, he will hopefully do other things.

    When I hear of Safrans show I rock backwards and forwards like Bart Simpson saying “Krusty Is Coming”. He is surely the inspiration for much of the do it your self TV and pop culture munching obscurity sketch shows. If its true about the impailing he has trumped any stunt in memory.

    I wish the best for The Chaser. In finding greeat success I hope they dont neglect their original audience.

  11. As other Chaser guys have been saying in other press interviews, this may be the last season for the show (they want to try a different format), but it’ll be inevitable in either the first or second episode, they’ll do a pi**take on the Claire bogan – Nine/ACA thing.

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