Warning: Political comedy may offend

Parody and satire? Genevieve Morris warns ABC1's Wednesday Night Fever may be provocative.

8gvmIf ABC’s new comedy series Wednesday Night Fever is anything like the show the team previously produced, At Home with Julia, then the broadcaster had better steel itself for outraged viewers.

Such is the axis between satire, social media and the 24/7 news cycle that there’s inevitably somebody who will protest over a joke a parody or see something that wasn’t even there.

But comedy has always been a tool to provoke.

Genevieve Morris tells TV Tonight she fully expects somebody to be offended.

“There’s no point in making comedy if you’re going to play it safe. I certainly don’t believe in comedy having a go at people and taking a cheap shot just for the sake of it. That’s lazy writing. But there will be points made, probably in a provocative way,” she says.

“As long as it bloody makes you laugh, that’s the thing! Most people can cope with something that’s provocative as long as they’re finding it funny, despite themselves.”

Recorded last night after last-minute rewrites in the wake of the political spill, the show will feature a mix of impersonations, sketches and musical numbers.

Morris, best known for Randling, Comedy Inc., Live from Planet Earth and a series of bank commercials, will be portraying Gina Rinehart amongst other characters.

“There’s a large parody component to the show with political figures in the spotlight in an election year. I think (politicians are) really writing it for us, to a certain extent with all the argy bargy. There’s also a live band which is hilarious and good fun, as well as a host who anchors the whole thing being Sammy J,” she says.

“We have some location sketches which are edited into the ‘live’ night, and some political interviews, or pieces to camera with public figure parodies. So it’s a real mix of stuff but we’ll know what it is when it’s on.

“We’ll do original characters as well, because that’s actually of more interest to me than parodies. I’ve never considered myself an impersonator. I’m much more interested in doing real characters.”

The ensemble cast includes Amanda Bishop, Paul McCarthy, Dave Eastgate, Heath Franklin, Anne Edmonds and Robin Goldsworthy.

“It’s so not my first time with Paul McCarthy but it is with the rest of the cast. I’ve done Randling with Heath Franklin but I’ve never done anything else with him.

“Part of the drawcard was that Sammy J is hosting it because I think he’s a great talent and also a lovely bloke. And that there was some new younger talent coming in with people like Anne Edmonds, Dave Eastgate and Robin Goldsworthy.”

Morris says the show has something of a Saturday Night Live feel to it but acknowledges ABC’s heritage in this genre through other shows such as The Big Gig. Not many networks are dabbling in the comedy genre of late but if it works that may change.

The Big Gig is definitely a benchmark for it in terms of getting to have a look at new comedic talent. Sometimes you saw that for the first time on The Big Gig,” she says.

“It often comes in waves. I don’t know whether this will be a new wave but I remember when we were doing Comedy Inc there was The Big Bite, The Wedge.”

But she is also mindful of the cruel experience of Ben Elton’s Live from Planet Earth, Nine’s show killed off almost single-handedly by Twitter while it was still on air.

“People can be so savage on social media even though they’ve never made a comedy show in their life they’re still the savagest judge of all,” she suggests.

Even younger cast members were susceptible to instant feedback during the Ben Elton show, including at their own peril.

“They would come off-stage after doing a scene and check their Twitter. I just thought on their behalf that’s so damaging, because they’ve still got to do another scene and been told ‘That sucked!’”

Morris doesn’t read reviews until she has finished any given gig and early in her career didn’t even like to watch herself on TV. But she’s mellowed.

“I didn’t when I was younger. Or I would watch it by myself.

“It is confronting when you haven’t done a lot of telly to see yourself. In the early days I used to think ‘I don’t even look like that! I don’t sound like that!’

“But now I’m at a stage where I realise I can learn a lot by not investing too much.”

Wednesday Night Fever airs 9:30pm Wednesday on ABC1.

30 Responses

  1. If you attempt a sketch about Clive Palmer and the only thing you can find to make fun of is his weight then, seriously, you need to go back to the schoolyard. Epic fail.

  2. In fairness and given that there was some unexpected political turmoil just prior to the Wednesday Night Fever first airing last night, where I did not have to crack out the panadol to cool any fever, but thought about using my “F bomb eliminating earphones ” when the unnecessary overuse and misplacement, diminished the intended effect.

    Whether they become a class act or not, will depend on what they come up with next week, and if they now let Ms Julia Gillard retire and relax in peace after a very trying 3 years that any lessor person would not have endured, so now that they should have got those shots out of their system,that should be the last week we see her impersonator, and if not it will only show how limited in material the writers actually are, or if they are simply scared of being on the end of the now famous Tony Abbott death stare, he inflicted on Mark Reilly not so long ago, or getting even worse from his black belted death stare tutor and deputy leader Jullie Bishop meow! meow!

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