When you’re talking to Tony Martin and Ed Kavalee it’s pretty much a case of every man for himself.
The answers come thick and fast, and it’s hard to know if they’re being serious or sarcastic, or even both at the same time (readers are therefore advised to take these answers with a grain of salt).
But that’s also half the fun.
Having forged a chemistry on their 2007 radio show Get This, with panel operator, the late Richard Marsland, these two keep any interviewer on their toes.
Their chemistry will be evident in their new comedy for Channel Nine, The Joy of Sets.
“It’s Tony and I crapping on about TV in a nutshell,” admits Kavalee.
“We’re reaching from the entire history of TV fifty years ago from shows that haven’t even gone to air, and using them as springboards for sketches, ideas and tricks that are used over and over again on various shows,” Martin offers.
“The first episode is entirely about Opening Title sequences. We’ve got shots from Baywatch, Man About the House, A Country Practice, with all of the different techniques that are used.
“Peter Phelps comes out and helps us recreate the Opening Title shot that he never got to do on Rescue Special Ops.”
In 2009 Kavalee appeared on Seven’s local version of the UK clip show TV Burp. The Joy of Sets is produced by Zapruder’s Other Films and remains an affectionate look at television, but Kavalee is grateful to have Martin as a partner in crime.
“We are television nerds. We love telly and we love talking about it. So It’s just a chance for us to get on board with a couple of cameras in our face and get some gags out,” he says.
“TV Burp was television out of context and talking about it in a different way. But this is about observations that Tony and I have had over the years about certain types of TV.”
Later episodes will cover television shows about Cooking, Families and even Renovation. Martin blames producer Andrew Denton for the format.
“We’re looking at all of the elements that you need to make a hit TV show, but possibly getting distracted by things like My Monkey Baby,” he says.
“We’ve got the structure of explaining how the different genres of TV work and then he’s let us go loose in the middle and for no reason have Warwick Capper in some gold hotpants running around.”
Kavalee says the show won’t be quite so political as The Gruen Transfer is with ads.
“Tony and I are fans of television so it’s more a comedic look at TV than a deconstruction of what makes a cooking show tick. We’ll talk about cooking shows but we do it with a comedy slant.”
Martin adds, “At the end of the first episode we take all of the tricks we’ve learned from Opening Titles and then re-do our Opening Titles using all of theirs.”
With footage drawn from Packed to the Rafters, MasterChef and The Block, the show will tackle content from all networks plus foreign TV plus shows that never made it to air. There are as many jokes at Nine’s expense and even themselves as there are at other targets.
“We started out with our DVD collection, and I’m one of the sad people who bought Blue Heelers,” Kavalee freely admits. “Then we farmed it out through YouTube and we’ve got a couple of researchers who’ve done a lot of work around other shows.”
“I watch Today Tonight most nights and I think since they’ve decided they are a fulltime comedy programme it’s gotten even better.”
Martin is quick to top the punchline:
“We’re pointing out that all of Joyce Jacob’s title shots from A Country Practice were the exact same shot over and over.”
But can a hosted clip show work in this era? And can it work on Nine where there is a growing list of comedy casualties? These boys are happy to be self-ironic and take on the challenge like a badge of honour. They are even pumped about being pitted against Packed to the Rafters, and sandwiched between Ashton Kutcher and Charlie Sheen next Tuesday.
“Thanks very much Channel Nine, because I reckon people are interested to see how the new Two and a Half Men goes, and they’ll stick around to see Charlie Sheen copping a few from his Hollywood friends. So I reckon they’ve given us a really big hand,” smiles Kavalee.
“If you’re not mad for Rafters then maybe you’re hot for something else at that time. Tony was forced to watch Rafters for this show and how do you describe it Tony…..?”
“I described it as watching 46 consecutive ads for Meadow Lea margarine back to back,” Martin replies.
Now I think I get what this show is in for.
Martin readily admits he’s been on his fair share of Channel Nine flops, but he still has a soft spot for its nostalgic value.
“I’m really good friends with Pete Smith and he’s Channel Nine’s longest-serving employee. I think he’s been working for the network since 1957. But I love all the old showbiz of Channel Nine,” he says.
“The Late Show was piloted at Channel Nine, we did five pilots there. And I did a great pilot a few years ago for The Shebang with Marty Sheargold and Fifi Box that never got up. I worked on the pilot for Micallef Tonight and I worked on what is always referred to as ‘the ill-fated’ Mick Molloy Show. So I’ve got a weird history with Nine.
“Ever since Hey Hey’s gone there’s not really a kind of home-page show, but we’re bringing out the Channel Nine dancers in one of our episodes. I don’t think there’s any other show on Nine where you could do that.
“How many episodes before we’re replaced by The Big Bang Theory? I don’t know. We’re shooting 8 episodes and we shoot the fifth one this week, so we’re at least guaranteed that five will be made.”
“It’ll be up to the fun-loving viewers of Australia,” suggests Kavalee. “It’s a half hour comedy show and that’s a pretty rare commodity these days.”
Martin adds, “Outside of the ABC there aren’t that many comedy shows on TV. There’s Good News World which has become a sketch comedy show, Hamish and Andy, and what else?”
“Today Tonight,” Kavalee quips.
The Joy of Sets airs 9pm Tuesdays on Nine.